A record number of American women will hold U.S. Senate seats after Tuesday’s election. In China, there is speculation over whether a woman will also make history by ascending to its top political core.
No woman has ever held a post in the elite nine-member Standing Committee of the Politburo that governs China. Thousands of senior Chinese officials gathered in Beijing this week and at the end of the conference next week, a new set of leaders will be unveiled.
Some observers consider Liu Yandong a possible contender for the exclusive ruling committee. Liu is the lone female member of the Politburo, a 24-member body atop the Chinese Communist Party. If promoted to the standing committee, Liu would make a crack in the political glass ceiling.
Even with the historic prospect of a woman joining the most powerful Chinese political entity, some are skeptical of the overall progress for Chinese women in power.
“I think women’s participation in politics in China remains largely symbolic due to complicated social, cultural, and political factors,” said Xi Chen, assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas-Pan American.
Liu is the daughter of Liu Ruilong, the former vice minister of agriculture. She is also said to have strong family ties with former Chinese President Jiang Zemin as well as President Hu Jintao. She is part of the “princeling class,” the sons or daughters of revolutionary veterans who now number among the nation’s elite.
“If Liu Yandong is appointed to the Politburo Standing Committee, it would be a milestone for female political representation in China and an indication that the Chinese government is ready to place a woman in a position of genuine power,” said Leta Hong Fincher, doctoral candidate at Tsinghua University, who examines gender issues in China. “But that move alone would not necessarily lead to an improvement in the overall status of women.”
If chosen for the committee, Liu will most likely take the position of the “propaganda tsar,” according to Hoover Institution, which is based at Stanford University. The group described Liu as “liberal minded.”
Chinese data show that women lag in political representation. Only 2.2% of working women were in charge of the state offices, party organizations and other enterprises or institutions, according to the Third Survey on Chinese Women’s Social Status, a national survey released last year.
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Source CNN Asia