China’s ‘Leftover Women’ fight bullshit with humor #Vaw #Womenrights

Published: April 23, 2013, NYT

BEIJING — For years, single Chinese women in their mid- to late-20s have endured being called “shengnu,” or “leftover women,” by relatives, by the state-run media and by society. The message is : Marry, ideally by 25, or you’re on the shelf.

Some are starting to push back.

“I don’t accept that definition,” said Li Yue, 34, who works at a nongovernmental organization in Beijing. “It’s really ridiculous. Who says I’m leftover, and by whom? I don’t feel I’m leftover, I feel I’m living the life I want.”

“It’s really annoying,” said Wang Man, 31, an employee of a poverty relief N.G.O. in Beijing. “By now though, I don’t care, as I think there’s a plot behind it. It’s an admonishment to women, it’s telling us what to do, where and when. Everyone is trying to get us to sacrifice ourselves, to look after children, husbands, old people.”

China has about 20 million more men under 30 years of age than women, according to official news reports — largely the result of gender selective abortion, with many parents preferring a son to a daughter. So why is the phenomenon of “leftover women” apparently so widespread? Aren’t desperate men snapping up available women?

Not exactly. Traditional attitudes demand that a man earn more than a woman, meaning that as women earn increasingly more they are pricing themselves out of the marriage market.

But as a result, partly, of the increasingly defiant attitudes of women like Ms. Liu and Ms. Wang toward a term that many still find terribly hurtful, a riposte to “leftover women” has been born — and it’s a clever one. Yes, they’re saying, we’re “shengnu.” But that’s “sheng” as in “victorious,” not “leftover.”

The pun that turns the tables on the prejudicial description is made possible by the fact that “sheng” has different meanings in Chinese depending on the written character: either “leftover” or “victorious” (or “successful,” as some prefer). Chinese is filled with homonyms, making punning a popular pastime.

The redefining of shengnu has been abetted by a television series, started last July, that translates as “The Price of Being a Victorious Woman.” It’s an exploration of the romantic life and career of the fictitious, unmarried Lin Xiaojie, played by the Taiwanese actress Chen Qiao En. In the series, the quirky, pretty Ms. Lin has troubled romantic encounters with attractive men. But along the way she builds a successful career.

While some consider the series overly sappy, it has had the effect of spreading the concept of “victorious women” as a morale-boosting alternative to “leftover women,” and delivering unmarried Chinese women more self-respect.

“In the series, the perfect metamorphosis of Lin Xiaojie from a ‘leftover woman’ to a ‘victorious woman’ shows you that in the working world too, it’s better to be strong and in charge of your destiny than to let other people control your future,” runs a summary of the series on the Web site of, a major Chinese film and TV portal. It offers 10 pieces of practical advice to young women, including: Don’t be bad but don’t be too good, either. Learn not to be influenced by your colleagues. Don’t fall in love with your boss.

Even the state-run media, which have long issued lugubrious warnings to young women on the perils of becoming a “leftover woman,” are — slowly — joining in.

The official microblog site of People’s Daily recently displayed a post suggesting that “leftover women” needn’t despair.

“Leftover women, don’t be tragic,” it said. “There are 20 million more men under 30 than women in China. So how can there be so many ‘leftover women?”’ It provided a common explanation: “Isn’t it because they’re not ‘leftover’ but ‘victorious’, and their requirements for partners are very high?”

But it continued, in a less judgmental vein: “They’re free, and can stand on their own feet. As China modernizes fast, ‘leftover women’ may turn into a positive term.”

It’s better to be “victorious” than “leftover,” said Ms. Liu, the N.G.O. worker. But overall, she’d rather not have to choose.

“I think it’s a very positive word,” she said. “But it’s also kind of odd because I never thought of this as a victory or some kind of a struggle.”

“We should have the right to choose what we want to do. So do we really need such a power-filled word as ‘victorious’ to describe something so normal?”

Ms. Wang agreed. “I’ve heard of it and I think it’s O.K., but I don’t think it’s a question of victory or defeat,” she said. “It’s just a way of life. If I had to choose, though, I’d tend toward ‘victorious’ for sure. Still, it all feels a bit tiring.”

Meanwhile, there are still many over-25-year-olds, fretting under strong societal pressure to marry, who have internalized the cultural and social values that they are “on the shelf.” China’s minimum marriage age for women is 20, so the window of opportunity for those who want to escape labeling is small.

For them, “shengnu,” with its double meaning, is, at best, neutral.

“I’m not completely proud of it,” said Zhou Wen, 27 and unmarried, a secretary at an American marketing company in Beijing, “but it is at least a neutral word. Not bad at all.”

Billionaire Communists–Defying Mao, Rich Chinese Crash the Communist Party

By JAMES T. AREDDY in Shanghai and JAMES V. GRIMALDI in Washington

Wall Street Journal

[image] Xinhua/Associated PressSeven of China’s richest were part of the Communist Party elite gathered to anoint new leaders last month in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

When the Communist Party elite gathered last month to anoint China’s new leaders, seven of the nation’s richest people occupied coveted seats in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda Group, worth an estimated $10.3 billion and the recent buyer of U.S. cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings, took one of the chairs. So did Liang Wengen, with an estimated fortune of $7.3 billion, whose construction-equipment maker Sany Heavy Industry Co.600031.SH -0.19% competes with Caterpillar Inc. CAT -0.75% Zhou Haijiang, a clothing mogul with an estimated $1.3 billion family fortune, also had a seat. As members of the Communist Party Congress, all three had helped endorse the new leadership.

Political Fortunes

Explore an interactive database on the political ties of China’s business leaders.


For years the Communist Party in China filled key political and state bodies with loyal servants: proletarian workers, pliant scholars and military officers. Now the door is wide open to another group: millionaires and billionaires.

An analysis by The Wall Street Journal, using data from Shanghai research firm Hurun Report, identified 160 of China’s 1,024 richest people, with a collective family net worth of $221 billion, who were seated in the Communist Party Congress, the legislature and a prominent advisory group called the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

[image] Bloomberg NewsGuo Guangchang, Fosun Group

China’s legislature, called the National People’s Congress, may boast more very rich members than any other such body on earth. Seventy-five people with seats on the 3,000 member congress appear on Hurun Report’s 2012 list of the richest 1,024, which Hurun says it calculates using public disclosures and estimates of asset values. The average net worth of those 75 people is more than $1 billion.

By comparison, the collective wealth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress was between $1.8 billion and $6.5 billion in 2010, according to the most recent analysis of lawmakers’ asset disclosures by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.


China has been grappling of late with political and social tension over its murky policy-making process and its growing income disparity. The party has been especially sensitive this year during the leadership change about revelations about fortunes amassed by the offspring of political leaders, known as “princelings,” by leaders of state businesses and by other politically connected people. Many ordinary Chinese blame high prices, poor quality food and pollution on guanshang guojie—meaning, roughly, officials in bed with businessmen.

As political families move into business, private tycoons are entering the political sphere—although precisely what is driving that isn’t clear. Other Chinese business leaders have cultivated relationships with party chiefs without entering politics themselves. But the Journal’s analysis showed that people appearing on Hurun’s rich list who also served in the legislature increased their wealth more quickly than the average member of the list.

[image] Bloomberg NewsGao Dekang, Bosideng Intl.

Seventy-five people who appeared on the rich list from 2007 to 2012 served in China’s legislature during that period. Their fortunes grew by 81%, on average, during that period, according to Hurun. The 324 list members with no national political positions over that period saw their wealth grow by 47%, on average, according to an analysis the firm ran for the Journal.

It is difficult to pinpoint precisely how holding political positions advances the business interests of the wealthy, if at all. They may do better because of their political positions, or, conversely, they may owe their positions to their business success. There are a multitude of reasons for Chinese companies to be on good terms with political leaders. Chinese companies routinely do business with the government, borrow money from state banks, even negotiate their tax bills with local authorities.

The business card of Mr. Zhou, the 46-year-old president of family owned Hongdou Group Co., lists 10 political positions. The clothing magnate said in an interview that his political positions give him opportunities to mix with “diverse elites”—businessmen, politicians and military officers.

[image] Xinhua/Zuma PressZhou Haijiang, Hongdou Group

“It makes me feel good to participate in this kind of exclusive group,” he said. Every time he gets a chance, he said, he prods state leaders to cut taxes, noting that he personally pressed Premier Wen Jiabao to extend technology tax breaks to firms building brands. It is unclear whether such tax breaks were extended.

In the days of Chairman Mao Zedong, capitalists were considered enemies of the state. Some business owners were persecuted and most enterprises became government property.

That changed in the 1980s and in the early 1990s when paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was said to have declared that “to get rich is glorious.” A 2002 constitutional amendment established that the Communist Party henceforth would consider valid the contributions of private enterprise, therefore providing a place for private entrepreneurs in the party system.

These days even lesser-known multimillionaires such as property developer Shi Yingwen of Guangxi Ronghe Co., shirt magnate Li Rucheng of Youngor Group Co. and wig queen Zheng Youquan of Henan Rebecca Hair Products Inc. 600439.SH -3.36% match Chinese mayors and generals in political rank. Self-made men and women serve in the legislature alongside party-appointed chairmen of state oil companies and banks.

China’s National People’s Congress bears little resemblance to its U.S. counterpart. Legislators aren’t popularly elected but are nominated by party institutions, which sometimes vote internally on nominees. Small groups of legislators write laws in consultation with top party officials. The broader legislature invariably passes them.


Political analysts sometimes describe China’s legislative seats as ceremonial because of the limited power of officeholders. Nevertheless, Dow Jones Watchlist, a sister publication of the Journal that provides financial institutions with a global database of government officials, characterizes more than 150 people on Hurun’s Rich List as “politically exposed persons” under international standards. Global anti-money-laundering conventions call on international banks to scrutinize transactions involving such individuals, their families and close associates.

Hongdou Group’s Mr. Zhou was invited into the party congress before his father retired from the legislature in 2008. Over the past 30 years, his family has gobbled up farmland near Wuxi to expand the company. The facilities now include more than 100 Hongdou-owned factories, including one of Asia’s biggest suit factories—and a hall honoring Communist leaders.

Hongdou was the first private company in China to win approval to launch a financing arm, and top party officials have supported its industrial push into Cambodia. Party leaders have adorned Zhongnanhai, the party’s Beijing leadership compound, with trees from Hongdou’s horticultural division, bolstering its claims that the plants provide therapeutic benefits.

In conversation, Mr. Zhou drops the names of top leaders, including Premier Wen, incoming president Xi Jinping and current President Hu Jintao. A quote from Mr. Wen adorns a full wall of Hongdou’s headquarters. Mr. Zhou says of his political activity: “I’m just trying to act as a representative for private entrepreneurs.”

Guo Guangchang, another member of the National People’s Congress, spent 20 years building China’s biggest private financial conglomerate, Shanghai-based Fosun Group. His fortune is estimated at $2 billion.

In March, he met with Mr. Xi, who was named China’s next leader last month. He pressed for expanded protection in China’s courts for insurers, more government investments into private-equity firms and increasing the scope of lending by nonbanks, according to a summary of his presentation on the company’s website. “Guo Guangchang expressed hope for more substantive initiatives in the liberalization of financial services and in reducing the tax burden of enterprises and individuals,” the website said.

Although it isn’t clear whether Mr. Guo’s efforts led to official changes, the fact that state media reported him airing views directly to Mr. Xi suggests that officials looked upon them favorably.

Mr. Guo and more than a dozen politically connected business leaders contacted by the Journal, including those mentioned in this story, either declined to comment on their government posts or didn’t respond to requests for comment. Questions about the political activities of the wealthy sent by the Journal to the National People’s Congress and other Chinese government and party organizations elicited no response.

Beginning as a tailor’s apprentice for his father in the 1970s, Gao Dekang built an apparel business and an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion. He joined the National People’s Congress in 2003. A year later, China’s foreign ministry certified jackets made by his company, Bosideng International Holdings Ltd., 3998.HK +0.85% as “national diplomatic gifts.” Russia’s Vladimir Putin was one of the foreign dignitaries to receive one.

Mr. Gao has hosted President Hu at his home, according to his authorized biography. Bosideng’s latest annual report says the company received “unconditional government grants” of about $3.9 million in the year ended March 31, which it said reflected its contributions to the development of local economies.

Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, or CPPCC, is an advisory council to the Communist Party and the legislature. With about 2,200 members, it is intended to be representative of China’s overall population, including those who don’t belong to the party. In practice, its function is to support government initiatives.

The CPPCC is becoming more like a Chinese version the U.K.’s House of Lords—weaker than the British version but richer. Seventy-four members appeared on Hurun’s rich list in 2012. The average wealth of those 74 was about $1.45 billion.

In a recent interview with the Journal, one CPPCC member criticized the influx of business people, saying she had witnessed “shameless” appeals by CPPCC members to Mr. Xi, China’s incoming president. At a small gathering in March, she said, a media tycoon and an infrastructure developer had pressed Mr. Xi to use his muscle to fix their business problems.

Member Chen Siqiang is the chief executive and controlling shareholder of New Oriental Energy & Chemical Corp., NOEC 0.00% a fertilizer company based in Henan. In late 2010, the company, whose shares were then listed in the U.S. on the Nasdaq Stock Market, faced a cash squeeze, according to a filing made to the Securities and Exchange Commission at that time. In the filing, Mr. Chen asserted: “I will also use my political influence as a member of the National Committee of CPPCC to coordinate with government agencies and financial institutions to enforce government support.”

About three months later, New Oriental announced the government in its home region had arranged $3.3 million in new loans. Nasdaq delisted New Oriental in 2011 after its capital fell below required thresholds.

The way political appointments are made is a murky business in China, and the process can involve currying favor with more-senior officials. In recent years, prosecutors in China have accused various officials of bribing their way into government positions and have jailed some of them for such activity. None of the wealthy individuals named in this story has been accused of such activities.

A Shanghai-based consultant said in recent interviews with the Journal that securing an appointment can involve a sophisticated campaign. He said he had devised and executed a “five-year plan” to try to gain political positions for an Internet-game tycoon. “Most people think you just have to bribe them, but it is actually quite subtle,” he said about efforts to persuade government officials.

In 2007, the consultant prepared a 14-page political primer for his client and mapped alliances between certain Beijing officials and the provincial government. The consultant said he added evidence to the company’s website that it was a “good citizen” that paid taxes and donated money. He said he staged a fake Communist Party meeting at the company in order to take photos.

The consultant hosted a dinner for the assistant to a senior Beijing official. During a foot massage, he said, the secretary hinted that a modest Chinese painting in traditional style might make an acceptable gift to the boss. The consultant said he bought one for around $3,000 and sent it anonymously to the official’s assistant in Beijing. He mailed the certificate of authenticity separately to make it clear the gift was from his client.

His client was hoping to be appointed to the Communist Party Congress. In the end, he got a lesser post: a seat in a provincial CPPCC. But in the process, the consultant said, he got potentially valuable information about provincial government plans for an economic zone and technology subsidies, which the consultant claimed were worth more than the campaign’s $320,000 cost.

Mr. Zhou, the clothing magnate, concedes that some people buy their way into power but calls such episodes “isolated incidents.” He says his fellow entrepreneurs are joining political bodies “to keep pace with the direction for the country’s development. If what I’m doing complies with the government principles, then every government official will support me.”

Write to James T. Areddy at


#China #Censorship – Chinese dissident goes `Gangnam Style` #mustread #mustwatch

OCTOBER 27, 2012 06:25
Ai Weiwei does Gangnam Style. Link to this video

Ai Weiwei, the dissident Chinese artist, has officially hopped on theGangnam Style bandwagon. On Wednesday Ai tweeted a cover version of South Korean rapper Psy‘s enormously popular music video, featuring the hefty 55-year-old artist – brow furrowed, grey-bearded, sunglasses on – dancing frenetically with a cohort of associates in his Beijing courtyard studio.

In the four-minute video Ai, wearing a bright pink shirt and black suit, imitates Psy’s signature horse-riding dance and at one stage loses his sunglasses in the process. The footage is spliced with clips from Psy’s original video but none of it showing the rapper himself. About 55 seconds in Ai pulls a pair of handcuffs from his pocket and waves them above his head, a possible reference to the 81 days he spent in detention last spring.

Ai’s parody is titled Grass Mud Horse Style after an alpaca-like animal invented by China‘s web users as a protest against internet censorship – its pronunciation in Chinese (Cao Ni Ma) sounds similar to a profane insult, forbidden on the country’s social networking sites. Ai’s 2011 work Grass Mud Horse Blocking the Centre shows a nude Ai holding a Grass Mud Horse plush toy over his genitals – the title sounds like an obscenity hurled directly at China’s central party leadership.

PSY’s Gangnam Style has more than 530m views and counting on YouTube. On Tuesday the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, met with the rapper to commend him on his international appeal. “You are so cool; I hope that you can end the global warming,” Ban said, according to Reuters.

Rapper Psy teaches Ban Ki-moon to dance Gangnam Style. 

Ai continues to be a looming presence in the international art world. He’s the subject of a sprawling exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC called Ai Weiwei: According to What? Recently he has contributed commentaries to The Guardian and guest-edited an issue of the New Statesman.


Yet Ai’s troubles with the government are far from over. Since his release in June authorities have kept him under close watch. They refuse to return his passport, barring him from accepting a faculty position at Berlin’s University of the Arts. In late September Ai and his company Fake Cultural Development lost their final appeal against a $2.4m tax fine.

“Ai Weiwei’s art and his activism resonate far beyond the art world and encourage an expanded dialogue on crucial social, cultural, and political issues of the day,” Hirshhorn museum director Richard Koshalek said in an exhibit catalogue, according to CNN.

He’s a pretty good dancer to boot.


Chinese dissident Li Wangyang found dead in ‘strange circumstances”

A leading Chinese dissident imprisoned after the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests has been found hanged in hospital.

Officials suggested Li Wangyang had committed suicide, but family members questioned this account.

His body was found on Wednesday in Shaoyang city, in the southeast of the country.

He was on his feet next to his bed, with a white strip of cloth tied tightly around his neck and connected to a window bar above, according to his brother-in-law Zhao Baozhu .

Al Jazeera’s Steve Chao, reporting from Hong Kong, said relatives doubted that Li would have been physically able to hang himself.

“They pointed out the fact that he was virtually blind and deaf and unable to walk properly from his years of mistreatment in prison,” he said.

“They also pointed out that as a leading dissident, he was being monitored by sometimes up to 10 police officers 24 hours of the day and they wonder how he may have managed to slip a bandage around his neck and tie it to a window without them noticing.”

‘Always very strong’

Li, 62, was released from jail last year after two decades in custody, but had been detained again several times since.

Even though he had so many illnesses and spent more than 20 years in jail, he never talked about suicide

– Zhao Baozhu, brother-in-law

Zhao said he was suspicious about Li’s death because the activist had never expressed a desire to kill himself despite hardships he went through.

He said that Li had seemed normal over dinner the previous night.

“He was always very strong, there was no sign at all that he was thinking of killing himself,” Zhao told the AP news agency.

“Even though he had so many illnesses and spent more than 20 years in jail, he never talked about suicide. So I don’t believe it.”

After Li’s death was discovered, more than 40 police descended on the hospital and took his body away, preventing the hospital and family from confirming the exact cause of death, Huang Lihong, a local activist, told AFP.

Zhou Zhirong, an activist and family friend, also said that Li’s relatives were escorted away from the hospital and then detained at a hotel.

“Li’s sister and brother-in-law have been taken away by the police and they were told that the death was due to suicide,” he said.

“Family friends and supporters and other activists have been strongly warned not to cause trouble and have been placed under police surveillance.”

‘Propaganda and incitement’

Activists looking at photos of the scene on the internet also doubted Li had hanged himself since his feet were touching the ground.

He was being treated at Daxiang District People’s Hospital for illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, failing eyesight and hearing.

Li was arrested for his labour activism on June 9, 1989, five days after the bloody military crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Sentenced for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement,” he spent much of his 11-year term at hard labour.

The subsequent 10-year sentence for inciting subversion centred on his demands for government help for health problems caused by beatings and mistreatment in prison.

Watch aljazeera video here

Why is China so afraid of one blind activist ? Take Action

Chen Guangcheng‘s future hangs in the balance.
Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, who is blind, escaped house arrest in Shandong province last week — but his future remains uncertain.

The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is underway in Beijing now. Urge leaders to respect Chen’s human rights and allow him to choose his own future.

Chen, a self-taught lawyer who was imprisoned and then subjected to violence and house arrest for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations in China, made a daring, Houdini-like escape to the U.S. embassy. Following delicate negotiations with the United States, Chinese officials pledged to allow Chen to live a “normal life” with his family, and he initially agreed to return home.

Does this sound “normal” to you?

“I don’t know what’s happened to my mother. There are guards inside the yard, in all the rooms, even on the roof. They’ve set up lots of cameras in my home and are preparing electric fences. They told my family they’d take wooden sticks and beat my family to death, so it’s very unsafe.”

-Chen Guangcheng, in an interview with NPRi

In recent hours, Chen has expressed a desire to leave China, fearing that he and his family can never enjoy freedom under the current system.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is representing the United States in China today. Her presence can provide the pressure we need to ensure Chen’s safety. The world is watching. Let Chen choose his own future.



Appeal for Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser

Allow Woeser the freedom to express and to travel”

As individuals from Asia who have received the Prince Claus Award in past years, we deeply regret that Tsering Woeser, the Tibetan writer and historian, has been prevented from receiving the Prince Claus Award for 2011 in Beijing by the Chinese authorities. Not only was Woeser denied the opportunity to receive the award from the Dutch Ambassador to China, her movements within Beijing have been restricted.

The Prince Claus Award for 2011 was given to Woeser as a ‘cultural pioneer’ who uses poetry and social media to highlight the challenges faced by the Tibetan people. She was recognised for speaking on behalf of “those who are silenced and oppressed, for her compelling combination of literary quality and political reportage, for recording, articulating and supporting Tibetan culture.”

We, five past recipients of the Prince Claus Award from Asia, believe that Tsering Woeser represents the finest ideals of the human spirit, represented in her intellectual independence and courage to speak out in the face of danger. We support Woeser’s yearning for open society and respect her all the more for remaining located in Beijing, in an attempt to bring about change from within. Woeser’s deep humanity is revealed in her recent appeal against the self-immolations that are occurring in and around Tibet.

We demand that the Chinese authorities in Beijing allow Woeser to receive the Prince Claus Award in an open ceremony. We also ask that the restrictions on her blogs and her poetry be lifted, as also restrictions on her freedom of travel inside and outside the country.

Signed by Prince Claus laureates: Arif Hasan (Karachi, Pakistan), Ganesh Devy (Vadodara, India), Jyotindra Jain (New Delhi, India), Kanak Mani Dixit (Kathmandu, Nepal) and Mehrdad Oskouei (Tehran, Iran).

Issued in Kathmandu, 29 March 2012

Contact: Kanak Mani Dixit, +977-9851053209,


Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

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Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel


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