China’s Attacks on feminism

The Chinese government pledged to tackle workplace discrimination based on gender in its annual work report in March 2022, and called for equitable opportunity for all. Two Chinese government-controlled media sites, on the other hand, took around a month to reject the official report’s remarks.

On April 12, the Chinese Communist Youth League’s Central Committee released a contentious tweet on its social media account. Some female social media users were labelled “radical feminists” by the Communist Party youth wing for questioning its propaganda photo choices of various historical events.

Critics complained that the Youth League’s selection of photographs portraying historical events such as the Red Army’s Long March, the Korean War, and the Wenchuan Earthquake Rescue Mission in 2008 failed to include women. Those detractors, according to the Chinese Communist Youth League, were exploiting the cause of gender equality in bad faith, accusing them of wanting to profit by gaining attention on the internet. To keep China’s cyberspace “clean,” the Communist Party youth wing finished its forceful messaging by urging all internet users to reject those “radical feminists” – whom the league compared to a “tumour” – as soon as possible.

This odd article continues a worrying trend in China, where voices and beliefs that advocate gender equality seems to be oppressed and censored. However, the public reacted negatively to the claims made by the Chinese Communist Youth League. The group deleted the comments on its social media account after receiving over 270,000 on the contentious post.

In addition, the problematic social media post contrasted prior Chinese Communist Party propaganda materials that praised women’s contributions to major historical events. In 2016, the Chinese military’s media publication, People’s Liberation Army Daily, honoured more than 2,000 female soldiers who fought in the Red Army. Xinhua, China’s national news agency, praised women for playing important roles in the Chinese central government in 2009.

China made a film in 2000 to honour the female troops who died in the Korean War. Female troops were promoted and highlighted in many official media channels throughout other key occasions in modern-day China, including the 1998 flood relief effort and the 2008 earthquake rescue mission.

In comparison to previous propaganda materials, the Chinese Communist Youth League’s social media post is plainly not up to grade. When challenged with opponents who questioned the omission of women’s roles, the Chinese Communist Party youth wing chose to blame internet users for being “radical” rather than listen to their concerns.

Other government news organisations failed to learn from this failure in messaging. Just one week after the Chinese Communist Youth League’s public relations catastrophe, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Daily (CPPCC Daily), the official media outlet of China’s official political advisory body, released an even more contentious piece. The CPPCC Daily reported Li Huacheng, a provincial legislator from Hubei province, on the prospect of pushing people to have more children through media restriction and criminalising abortion services in a news piece about China’s low birth rate.

In an interview, Li said that harmful attitudes from Western nations that advocate independence and individual liberty are influencing today’s youth. These beliefs, according to Li, are incompatible with Chinese traditional norms, which urge men and women to marry and have numerous children. Li also advised that instead of focusing on encouraging young people to raise children and happy families, media outlets should decrease or delete coverage that supports individual liberty or empowers women. Li also believes that university students should attend marriage-related seminars in order to “correct” their views on marriage and child-rearing.

While Li campaigned for initiatives like housing subsidies and financial help to encourage young couples to have more children, he mostly focused on penalties rather than incentives. He proposed that the police intervene and prosecute parents who oppose their children marrying. Furthermore, Li underlined that the government must properly investigate abortion services in order to assure the birth of more healthy children. He believes that anyone who provide abortion services to non-qualified cases should face harsh penalties.

Those Li’s views, which were backed up by a Chinese official media source, blatantly ignored women’s fundamental freedom to choose their own lifestyle. His remarks became even more perplexing as internet users uncovered a 2007 scholarly essay written by Li. Li, who was advocating for a re-examination of China’s marriage system at the time, claimed that the Chinese legal system should provide an acceptable atmosphere for the LGBTQ population to exist in the country. After authoring a progressive piece fifteen years ago, Li has now moved to the opposite extreme of the political spectrum, advocating for the criminalization of abortion services and the censorship of feminist views.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has shown little interest in dealing with the problems that women face on a daily basis. According to some experts, Women in China suffer dangers to their physical safety in addition to employment discrimination. While Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged to fight human trafficking in China at a news conference earlier this month, the Chinese government has failed to adequately handle the high-profile crime of the “chained lady” discovered in a rural region of Xuzhou. Activists who continue to examine structural concerns of human trafficking are being detained instead. In China’s online, discussions about the chained lady, human trafficking, and the lack of gender equality continue to be censored.