Libmonster ID: RU-19360
Author(s) of the publication: Yu. O. RICKER


Post-graduate student of the Trans-Baikal State University (Chita)

China Keywords:gender identityandrogynybirth control policy

The 20th century in China was marked by intensive development in all spheres of public life. Significant changes in the economic sphere have led to equally significant changes in the social sphere. The economic reforms initiated in China in the late 1970s and 2000s put the country on the trajectory of one of the world's leading economic developments, and also had a significant impact on the position of women in modern Chinese society.

Despite the Taoist ideas that associate women with yin and men with yang (and the equal complementarity of these two principles), until the twentieth century, women in China occupied a lower position in the traditional hierarchical order of the universe.1

The Constitution of the People's Republic of China (amended in 1954, 1975, 1978, and 1982) grants women equal rights with men in all areas of life - political, economic, cultural, and social. A significant number of legislative acts have been adopted that protect the rights and interests of women, such as laws on marriage, inheritance, maternal and child health, women's labor protection, and the prohibition of prostitution. In 1980, China signed the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and in 1990, the International Labour Organization Convention on Equal Pay for Men and Women was ratified.

In 1995, for the first time in the country's history, the Government adopted a program to improve the status of women for the period 1995-2000, which provided for improving the educational and professional level of women, increasing the proportion of working women and the number of managerial positions they held.

It was established in March 1949 and plays an important role in the country's political life. National Women's Federation. Its main task is to unite and mobilize all women for active social, economic and political life, protect their interests and promote equality with men.2


The efforts made to increase the role of women in the socio-economic sphere have not been in vain: for a young Chinese specialist, regardless of their tender affiliation, satisfaction of their professional ambitions comes first.

Career-conscious young employees refuse to have children. These families are designated by hieroglyphs, literally translated as "double income and no children"3. Such attitudes, which are common among girls in many Asian countries, are caused by the fear of losing their personal freedom, the negative impact of going on maternity leave on their career, and the loss of external attractiveness.

The number of divorces among young Chinese couples has also increased in the last decade. One of the main reasons for this was an increase in the level of education of young women, an increase in their personal income and an increase in their social status.

As a result, the proportion of childless families in China is growing, which, combined with the current one-child policy, is a rather dangerous demographic situation.


The one - child policy (one family-one child) was introduced by the Chinese government in 1978 to reduce the rate of demographic growth, as well as mitigate China's social and economic problems. The initial goal was economic gain, aimed at reducing the burden on the country's land, water and energy resources and maintaining economic stability by reducing unemployment.

However, there are exceptions for rural couples, ethnic minorities, and parents who do not have siblings. In most rural areas, it is possible to obtain permission for a second child, if the first-born is a girl, or if the child has any physical or mental disabilities. However, the presence of additional children leads to significant financial penalties and the loss of possible benefits in the workplace.

The one-child policy also does not apply to ethnic minorities, who are generally allowed to have two children even in urban areas and three or four in rural areas.

The administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau, as well as foreigners residing in China, are exempt from the implementation of this law.

In 2008, the National Commission for Population and Family Planning issued a statement that the one-child policy remains unchanged for at least the next 10 years. However, in March 2011, the Chinese Government did pass amendments allowing couples to have a second child in some cases.

A problem called "four-two-one"is directly related to birth control. We are talking about the fact that an only child, having reached the working age, is obliged to support himself, two parents and four grandparents.

page 62

The roots of this approach go deep into the historical and cultural traditions of China: as in most Asian countries, the preference in the family is given to sons due to the patriarchal nature of Chinese society. Among rural and urban populations, Confucian norms are widespread, according to which their sons provide financial support to their parents after they retire. In addition, the Chinese traditionally believe that married daughters become part of the husband's family4.

According to European Union experts, only 55% of workers in urban areas and a very small part of the rural population are provided with pensions.5 In rural areas, children still mostly support their elderly parents, although in recent years measures have been taken to provide them with pensions.

Most older adults remain completely dependent on their grown-up children (or one child). It was in connection with this problem that one of the amendments to the law on birth control was introduced, allowing couples to have a second child.

At the same time, the latest census of the country's population, the results of which were published in April 2011, showed that compared to 2000, the number of people over the age of 60 increased by 2.95% and reached 13.5% of the population of China. And the population over 65 years of age has reached 8.87%, which exceeds the internationally recognized threshold of 7%, indicating an aging society6.

According to forecasts of Chinese sociologists, the number of working people will begin to decline from 2016, and after 2025 it will decrease by almost 10 million people annually.7

The existing tender imbalance is also a serious social problem in other respects. In 2008, the ratio of male and female births was 120.6 per 100, and in some areas it was even 140 per 100, compared to the current global ratio of 107 per 100. According to forecasts of Chinese sociologists, by 2020 there will be 24 million people in China. single men 8.


The one-child policy has changed attitudes towards children in the family, which, in turn, has provoked the emergence of a fashionable social phenomenon, which in China has already been called a term that roughly translates as " the unisex style craze." It embodies the gender neutrality that is now in vogue among young Chinese people who grew up as an only child. This model violates traditional male and female image stereotypes. Li Wendao, an associate professor at the Pedagogical University, argues that the one-child policy and the predominance of women in the educational environment eventually formed a gender-neutral youth.

China has been known for the discrepancy of gender stereotypes among historical and cultural figures of the past. Legendary war heroine Hua Mulan disguised herself as a man to serve in the army under her father's name. The Emperor granted her a public office. After that, Hua Mulan returned home, where she was visited by her colleagues, who found her in women's clothing. Whether Hua Mulan had a real prototype or not is unknown.9

In 1998, the American company Walt Disney made the eponymous cartoon Mulan, in 2004-its sequel. A number of feature films and TV series have been made about Mulan. The famous New Zealand TV series "Xena-the Warrior Queen" was also inspired by this ancient Chinese legend about the ability of a woman to fight and command an army as well as men.

In China, the new obsession with "unisex" is reflected in the multi-million dollar fashion, video game and Japanese manga industries, which has been particularly noticeable in recent years.

Li Yuchin and Zeng Yuke are the most famous girls in China who use the unisex style. Li Yuchin is the winner of "Chinese Star Factory", who gained fame after singing a song about a man's love in a powerful low voice. Tseng Yuke - participant of the contest "Happy girls" 10. They have gained tens of millions of followers.

Chinese media and social experts conducted an online survey of 2019 respondents representing the adult Chinese population. 65% of respondents fear that the obsession with the "unisex" style may lead to abnormal and strange behavior 11.

There is an opinion that "effeminate" boys can blacken the image of the Chinese army. A recently published book, Save Our Boys, which claims that Chinese boys are in danger of losing their masculinity, has become a national bestseller.

Some young people experiment with androgynous appearance, which shows both feminine and masculine qualities. Perhaps this style of behavior has become one of the ways to overcome the stress of growing up in the face of rapid changes in socio-economic life. Young people shock the older generation with a touch of "unisex".

* * *

Thus, in modern China, at this stage of development, there is a significant transformation of traditional tender roles, and consequently, the tender identity of the individual. There is a special, "Chinese" version of it.

The future will show what this controversial phenomenon will bring to the country.

Yemelyanova T. 1 Kitai: zhenka i obshchestvo [China: Woman and Society]. Man and Labor, 2001, No. 9 -

2 National Women's Federation - - 04/15/content_2065662.htm

3 China: Threats, Risks, development challenges

4 Abnormal sex ratios in human populations: Causes and consequences -

Oksanen Heikki. 5 The Chinese pension system - first results on assessing the reform options // European Commission Economic Papers 412. June 2010, p. 1 -

6 Population Control and Consequences in China -

7 Ibidem.

8 Ibid.

9 China's unisex craze - home/news.php?id=17743&sec=9

10 Ibidem.

11 Ibid.


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Yu. O. RICKER, China. WOMEN'S EQUALITY AND THE ONE-CHILD POLICY // Moscow: Libmonster Russia (LIBMONSTER.RU). Updated: 16.04.2024. URL: (date of access: 30.05.2024).

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