Great amalgamation of some recent articles on gender issues in China here at the China Digital Times. For anyone who is interested in this topic this review of my good friend Professor John Osburg’s book at Tea Leaf Nation adds a lot to this conversation.
One of the key signs that China has reached an inflection pint in their development is the fact that gender equality on all fronts is getting worse, not better. Here are some key examples:
- Female unemployment in urban areas is rising
- The gender wage disparity is rising
- The gender gap is still slowly rising
- More and more women feel they do not need to work, just find a rich husband
- It is nearly impossible for a woman to become Mayor, or Party Secretary at any committee level of the CCP
- While female entrepreneurship is on the rise, there are no female bosses in most companies and industries
- Rape, stalking and other violent crime against women is steadily increasing
Overall, the reality on the ground for women paints the same picture of China’s choices as do the environment, food safety, and corruption; if China does not act soon to overcome these issues, no one can accurately predict what will happen. What is assured, is the fact that it will not be good for the people of China or the world.
This Fox News piece about the blocked protests in Chengdu is a great read. The tone of the piece is focused on a key idea – If China’s government would be open and transparent about what’s being done and why in regards to the environment, maybe just maybe the people would begin to trust the government again. Instead, the government continues to squash any level of protest and public involvement in this area. I especially enjoyed these two quotes.
1) “What do they fear?” asked local resident Tina Zhong, contacted via China’s social media. “If the government can share more information, the public would be less distrusting.”
2) Ma Jun of the nongovernmental Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs said solving environmental disputes through public demonstrations carries both social and economic costs. “The best place to solve the conflicts should be inside a town hall rather than in the street,” said Ma. He said “the public needs to be able to learn the details about such projects and to participate in the decision-making process.”
I love this article on CNN’s iReport. It is refreshing to see someone in the field write so honestly about these issues. I consulted in this industry in 2006 and 2007. During my time I witnessed many students submit clearly falsified transcripts and nearly 80% have their admissions essays written by employees of the education consulting firm. I also was only involved with the students from the best high schools seeking early admission to the Top 20 US Universities. I completely agree that it is both educational systems, not just the China side, that is creating the incentives for this type of behavior. While it is true many US Universities have become aware of these issues, it is equally true they are not acting fast enough to change how they recruit and evaluate potential Chinese students.
Another example of the food safety issues facing China came out today. There are reports that a ring of criminals has passed off rat meat as mutton to the tune of a million USD. Such chicanery is common place in modern China. While it is good to see this and other high-profile busts recently occurred, there still is no indication that systemic change is occurring. Without a system wide-long lasting effort by the Communist Party to create incentives to enforce public health laws and regulations, the unfortunate truth is occurrences like this will continue unabated.
Here is an interesting perspective from the China RealTime Report (WSJ) on the recent spate of negative news for large foreign companies in China. I have always advocated the necessity to look past first impressions when situations like this arise in China. It can be said with confidence there are always layers to any public action by the government. Not only is the new leadership sending a message to China’s trading partners, as pointed out in the article, they are sending a message to the public, that foreign firms will not escape unscathed in the upcoming crackdown. What is more of a question is will there be a real crackdown now that the power transition is officially over, or will foreign firms become scapegoats to draw attention away from all the issues facing Chinese firms? I will for one think there will be some form of genuine crackdown and reform on issues like the environment and food safety. The current attention to foreign “malfeasance” is simply killing the foreign Monkey to scare the local Rooster.