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China’s New 21st-Century Realities

Social Equity in a Time of Change

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Edited By Richard Greggory Johnson III

China’s New 21 st -Century Realities: Social Equity in a Time of Change examines the new social justice realities in China. Often when people think of China they think of a very rigid, patriarchal society where oppression is the order of the day. However, this book aims to debunk some of those preconceived notions by addressing issues such as single men living in rural China, professional women in politics, and the baggage that comes with being considered an outsider. The book looks at China through a critical social justice prism that has seldom been used before. Contributors also take on race and ethnicity as a means to understanding that China, like many nations in the world, is becoming increasingly diverse in many areas including religion and gender roles. This book is a must read for anyone that is truly interested in unlearning what they believe they know about human rights in China.

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Chapter One: China’s Glass Ceiling: The Exclusion of Women From High-Level Politics

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i n t r o d u c t i o n Women constitute slightly less than half (48.5% in 2014) of China’s total pop- ulation (“China—The World Factbook”, 2014). However, their contribution to the social and economic development of Chinese society is more than half of that of men by virtue of their dual roles in the productive and reproductive spheres. Despite this, their participation in formal political structures and processes remains insignificant. It cannot be denied that women’s political participation has made some prog- ress since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. For example, Article 91 of the 1954 Constitution specifically gave women “equal rights with men in all areas of political, economical, cultural, social, and domestic life” (Burnett, 2010). During the 1950s, Chairman Mao Zedong’s famous quote, “Women hold up half the sky” (Yuen, 2013), further promoted women’s social status. In 1995 China hosted the Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace in Beijing. This event served as a catalyst in boosting women’s political involvement, resulting in various gender-oriented regulations. In the closing address of the 1995 World Women’s Conference, then-President Jiang Zemin once again emphasized that “the equality between men and women is the fundamental policy of China” (Guo & Zheng, 2008). Fol- lowing the 1995 conference, the Chinese government has been systematically sup- porting women’s political rights. c h a p t e r o n e China’s Glass Ceiling: The Exclusion of Women From High-Level...

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