Wei Jingsheng Foundation
News and Article Release Issue Number: A10-G3
Release Date: March 27, 2003
Topic: Ms. Ciping HUANG Spoke for Chinese Women's Rights in US Congress
Original Language Version: English/Chinese
(English at beginning, Chinese version at the end)
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March 10, 2003
Dear Congressional Executive Commission on China,
My name is Ciping Huang, I am the Secretary General for the Overseas Chinese
Democracy Coalition and a Council member and Human Rights Committee chair for
the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars. I am speaking
on behalf of these two organizations today.
My topic today is about Women's Issues in China, which I have wanted to make
since I attended the round table discussion on the same subject organized by
this Commission on February 24, 2003. I was not satisfied with the way the
subject was presented on that date, which was on a similar path with the
other subjects that were presented at this Commission.
As I have talked to your staff before (see the first attachment), I feel
strongly that this Commission should concentrate more on the Chinese human
rights issues due to its founding background in the PNTR debate and its
mission to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in
China. Despite this mission, although I understand the conditions and
limitations, I feel the Commission has focused more on other issues such as
the Chinese economic situation with respect to American business enterprises,
instead of the Chinese human rights condition and the needs and demands of
the Chinese people. I feel it is extremely important for the Commission to
have more of our fellow Chinese testify on the human rights abuse conducted
by the Chinese government and its officials, testimony which the Commission
has been short of. Here again, I would like to offer assistance and help
when you need to locate victims and witnesses to testify in this regard.
Coming back to the women's issues in China, I want to point out that the
conditions described in your February 24, 2003
discussion are not quite to the essence of the problem. On one side, I
understand there is a time limit to discuss such a big and complicated
problem and I do understand the scholars' and experts' insight and detail on
certain aspects. On the other side, I have learned that many scholars have
restricted themselves from a harsh criticism of the Chinese government in
concern for the typical retaliation from that government, which would simply
not allow them to go back to China or sabotage their studies and discredit
them afterwards. The Chinese government has arrested and harassed Chinese
born scholars in the past; they have upgraded this harassment from green-card
holders to US citizens, and now the threat and fear has reached even
further. The arrest and trial of several scholars such as GAO Zhan, LI
ShaoMin and XU ZeRun are just few of their escalated episodes that have
received media attention. Their ten months of detention of Dr. YANG JianLi
without any communication by him to the outside, even to his family, nor any
other legal proceeding nor trial is not just violating international
standard, but also Chinese law itself.
Under this type of harsh environment for the scholars, I feel more than ever
a responsibility to stand out to speak for our fellow Chinese people,
especially the unfortunate Chinese women. As a second daughter, I have
experienced sexual discrimination myself from the birth. Even as the most
outstanding student, I had to take a lesser job or other position due to the
fact that I was a woman. My boss told me to my face that he must place me in
a less desirable position because I was a woman. Even now, my female
classmates and friends have lost their jobs to the male counterparts because
of their sex.
Of course, there is a social background supporting this issue. However, for
a government boasting perfect equality such as "women will hold half the sky"
and a government that is so successful carrying out their policy of
suppressing dissidents and religious believers, one has to wonder why they
could not carry out their slogans and policies for women. Women lack not
just social and economic status but also political status in
Taking the recently opened People's Congress as an example, only about 20%
are women. There was an even smaller fraction of women in the main decision
making body of the Chinese Communist Party Congress that was just closed last
There have been very limited yet well revealed stories in the press about how
women are treated in China. They were the victims of ignorance in the past.
With the economic development in China, they are further and further dragging
behind the men and have become victims of cheap labor and exploitation, not
just economically, socially, but also sexually. The highest suicide rate for
women in the world is in China. This fact alone is one of best pieces of
There is widespread knowledge of the present surge of prostitution, women
trafficking, female fetus abortion, and abortion and sterilization of women.
However, let me summarize the areas of my greatest concern for Chinese women
in regarding their rights:
1. The growth of
economy is built on the abuse of human rights, especially of women, via the
parity of lack of unemployment opportunity for woman and cheap labor
exploitation of young girls.
a) Engaged in "Little-sister labor," many teenager girls who go to the city
for a job in a factory not only lose their opportunity for education, but
also become vulnerable for lower pay and unfair treatment without protection,
even sexual harassment.
Take the quote (which is not the worst of all) from the report a few months
ago (as my second attachment), about young girls working in foreign ventures
making 30 cents an hour for 16 hours a day, with only two days off every
month. In these kinds of places, these young girls are not just exploited
economically; some were taken advantage of sexually and even raped by the
managers and owners of the factories.
b) With the diminishing of State Owned Enterprises (SOE), women are losing
their social warfare and health benefits altogether.
Even according to data permitted by the Chinese government, nearly half of
the unemployed female laid off workers experience age and sex discrimination
when they try to find a new job. A women over 35 years old usually has no
hope of finding a job unless she has strong connections or excellent skill.
My sister was thrilled to get a senior engineer job which specifically
required: "male and younger than 35 years old", she was the only exception
for that company, which is the biggest one in my hometown of more than
c) If one thinks these kinds of job ads are not respecting women, one will
find that the ones seeking women specifically are only worse.
Take as an example, a newspaper ad to recruit a janitor: "Female, under 25
years old, pretty, slight, over 160cm in height, no education required." My
friend read me another ad seeking flight attendants who must be "virgin".
2. Women's rights are worsened along with the "free market economy", which
including lost their own freedom and liberty, even social status.
I want to emphasize to this Commission that, although many perceive the
economic growth in China, nevertheless, it has not helped to improve women's
condition. As a matter of the fact, it only opened more cracks to make women
fell into as victims. The system under the Chinese government only lets such
a "free market economy" to be free to abuse women's rights.
a) In worsening family violence, sexual annoyance, and sexual assaults, many
women find themselves to be in abusive positions, and some fall into the
victimization of human trafficking.
b) Young prostitutes are in the millions. In poverty-stricken areas, girls
specifically have lost their education rights as a result of the collapse of
the iron rice bowl. Many go to cities for a rosy promise, but only find
themselves working as "Little-sister laborers", or even as prostitutes. Some
are sold to cities or even abroad as prostitutes. For example, the number of
prostitutes in Malaysia has increased dramatically since 2000. Most of them
come from China.
Women become the victim of AIDS due to the sexual exploitation. These women
infected with AIDS do not dare to reveal their disease, not to mention having
any hope to be taken care of.
A recently story was about a father who had to pretend to be a customer to
meet his kidnapped teenage daughter who had disappeared for three months and
was already forced to receive about 700 customers!
How outrageous this kind of crime is! Yet the Chinese government seems so
weak to wipe out this "social virus" as effectively as they wipe out the
dissidents' voice? Why? The ones conducting these types of crime are often
local officials, police, or at least associated with these governmental
authorities, so unlike the powerless young girls, they make money and escape
law without punishment. Recently, there were several cases of police
brutality in China. Young girls were forced to make confession of
prostituting and paying fines and go to jail. They were more fortunate
because eventually they were freed to claim their innocence after getting
examinations to prove that they were virgins.
c) "Er Nai", a new term for concubines, has not only become the most popular
term in China, but is more in practice for wealthy and powerful men in the
last few years.
When I was visiting China in 1998, once I mistakenly went to a bathhouse,
which had a massage center that turned out to be a place for men to pick up
young girls for the night. As I was wondering why there were no female
customers, I got my opportunity to learn the sobbing conditions and
environment these homeless girls have. Now, I have learned that the
situation has only gotten worse for these girls with the further economic
development in China. Nevertheless, when I was talking to these hopeless
girls, to be some well off man's "Er Nai" was a better outlet for them.
3. Along with the loss of women's rights is the loss of rights and even lives
of baby girls and unborn female fetuses.
a) There is a high rate of female infanticide and baby girl abandonment.
Under the Chinese government's One Child Policy, this issue really became
aggravated. Millions of baby girls and fetuses have been killed and
aborted. If we say this issue reveals the low status of women in China, then
the government's capacity of being able to carry out the One-Child Policy yet
unable to protect the lives and happiness of the innocent female babies and
fetuses is the indication that their strict policy is very selective. It is
the government that forced such policy on the unwilling citizens who do not
have many other choices. It is the government that forced the women to have
sterilization. It is very clear that they to ignore human lives, which is in
coherence with their abuse of human rights.
An official datum is that, for every one hundred girls in China, there are
more than 120 boys. Some suggest that the number of boys is even higher.
Along with the birth or just pregnancy of female infants, is the lost status
of the mothers who do not bear sons. Some women are discriminated against
for that reason, or even become an excuse for the husbands to file for
divorce and/or seek other women. Some of them are driven to suicide,
contributing to the previously mentioned highest world rate.
b) The position and value of female children is decreasing.
Especially in poor areas and for poor families, female children are under
greater pressure than their male siblings to discontinue schooling. The
subsequent neglect of the care and education for a female child is still
prevalent. Girls have very difficult chances to get into competitive and
reputable colleges for higher education. In my class, only 10% of the
students were girls.
4. Women's social, economic and health benefits are decreasing.
a) Women do not have their adequate health benefits, along with other social
benefits. Sometimes, the minimum "benefit" was built on the fact that their
human rights were violated. As an example, in a factory in WuXi, a
well-developed city close to Shanghai, the female workers received free
feminine napkins but were required to submit evidence of their menstruation
and were subject to search and examination of their private parts in order to
get a fair pay. Termination was the likely result if one was discovered to
I know of women who wait to die instead of seeking treatment because they
cannot pay the hospital bills. The lady (with the enlarged neck due to lack
of iodine) presented in the recent PBS show "China in Red" is one of them.
b) For the women experiencing domestic violence, the government and the
society do not provide adequate protection. When some women report men's
brutality to the police, the answer is like: "Men do what men do."
Just on February 10, Ms. SU ChunMei, a 33-year-old woman, was critically
injured when her husband threw her out from the third floor. According to
official Chinese government data, at least 34% of Chinese families have
different degrees of domestic violence. 32% of people (mostly men) admitted
violent behavior against their spouses.
c) Unfair divorce and child custody is increasing.
The divorce rate is climbing in China. Not only do the divorced women get a
smaller or even virtually no share of their property and housing, but also
lack protection from the abusive husbands future abuses. There are reports
about revengeful husbands killing the ex-wives. Yet, in contrast, women do
not have much to say, nor much to take when husbands leave them for whatever
reason, even a new women.
5. Last but not the least, Chinese government systematically suppresses the
human rights of our fellow Chinese, especially of religious believers and
In particular, there are large-scale abuses and torture against female
FaLunGong members and underground church members, not to mention ordinary
female prisoners. Besides being refused food and water, female detainees are
often sexually abused, even gang raped by male jail mates and officers.
There are incidents where the officers intentionally throw the female
prisoner into all male cells for hours of sexual abuse even rape. There is
police brutality of not only taking female prisoners clothes off, but also
using electric shock and hot iron bars to burn nipples and lower body parts.
Of course, there is some limited struggle for the suppressed. One such
effort is by a group of TianAnMen mothers who spend painstaking effort to
collect names and details about the victims of the June 4, 1989 students
movement. Lost their own loved ones to that massacre, they recorded deaths,
seek justice, and speak out for the rights of others such as the Tibetans and
have left a bright mark for the Chinese women's record of defending their
I speak here not just for these women whose rights are offended, but also for
these people who defend their rights. I am speaking here not just to let
this commission to know the terrible human rights condition in China, but
also to seek this commission's sympathy and help to push for Chinese human
rights in your capacity. Hereby, I want to urge the Commission not to forget
these powerless and voiceless youth and not to let the superficial economic
development details cover up the very fact of the severe Chinese human rights
I also want to point out the wrong approach of a suggestion to take the All
China Women's Federation as an NGO, or at least treat it as such even though
knowing it is really a Chinese government agency. It is well known that
there is no real workers' union in China that is permitted and admitted by
the Chinese government. The so-called the All China Workers' Union is really
an organ of the Chinese government to support their effort of exploiting
workers' rights rather than to protect the workers and promote their rights
and benefits. Well, the All China Women's Federation fares no better than
the All China Workers' Union. To work, to associate with, even to help and
fund these types of organization not only contributes to suppression of the
Chinese, but also deceives freedom loving American taxpayers.
Finally, I want to thank this Commission for paying attention to women's
issues. However, I must decry an effort to isolate these problems without
emphasizing their connection to the Chinese human rights problem. Hereby, I
want to emphasize that the women's problem in China is very much a human
rights problem. I wish this Commission will pay attention to this issue and
play a positive role in the improvement of women's rights in China.
Due to the limitation of time, I am submitting you the full text of my speech
and the other materials as reference and supplement. Attachment 1 is my
suggestion to the commissioners and staff of CECC on February 3, 2003 via
Chris Billing, CECC communication director. Attachment 2 is an article by
Jasper Becker in Beijing that was published right before Christmas: "China's
exploited toy workers still toil in toxic sweatshops". Attachment 3 is a
Chinese article from the web, which details the reality in China wherein
women's rights are not protected but exploited. There is much more material
both in English, more in Chinese on the subject, both in the traditional news
media and on the web that I will not submit at this time.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak.
Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition
Attachment 1: My suggestion to the commissioners and staff of CECC on
February 3, 2003 (via means of Chris Billing, CECC communications director)
1. CECC is a commission established after the PNTR debate in the Congress in
2002. Its primary mission is and should be "to monitor human rights and the
development of the rule of law in China". Unfortunately, since the
Commission officially got functioning one year ago, it has focused much more
on the Chinese economic details than its human rights conditions.
2. In an effort to monitor the Chinese human rights condition, I suggest the
Commission to get more Chinese to testify on the Chinese human rights abuse
reality, instead concentrating on American scholars and American business
associates' detailing the Chinese economic situation. As I have offered
before, I will be happy to assist the staff if you do not know enough of
Chinese contacts and I will be happy to help you to establish communication
and provide potential candidates within the Chinese dissidents community and
victims who have suffered human rights abuses in China.
3. On CECC's web page, there is a victims registry part that has provided
nothing on it. Well, we surely could have many contributions, either from
the political prisoners, or Falungong members, or underground church members,
etc . If the commission needs help to collect data and detail, we will be
glad to help.
4. At end of the each session, it is nice to have a Q&A session from the
Commission representatives and staff. What I would like to know is if it is
possible for the attendees (with positive ID and credentials) to ask
questions as well, in case of oversight. I think this would help the session
to be more well covered and balanced and provide motivation and sense of
participation for those who care about the Chinese human rights condition, as
well as the well being of this Commission.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition
Council member and Human Rights Committee chair
Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars
China's exploited toy workers still toil in toxic sweatshops
By Jasper Becker in Beijing
24 December 2002
In the crowded sweatshops of China's Pearl River delta, the world's toys are
churned out not by Santa's elves, but by 1.5 million peasant girls toiling
through shifts of 12 or 14 hours, inhaling toxic fumes.
A 10-year campaign to introduce basic workers' rights has barely begun to
improve the shabby treatment of the girls, new research shows.
"The Chinese toy factory workers are more exploited than before," said May
Wong of the Asia Monitor Resource Centre who investigated the toy industry,
with the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee. Another investigator,
Monina Wong, author of a soon-to- be-published report for the Hong Kong
Coalition for the Charter on the Safe Production of Toys, said: "Wages have
actually gone down, there is so much surplus labour. Conditions have improved
alittle, especially in overtime because big buyers are putting pressure on
But workers still have no contracts or unions, and little protection from
owners who sometimes withhold part or even all of the wages due.
China makes 70 per cent of the world's toys and its exports, now worth $7.5bn
annually, have doubled in eight years. In addition, China exports nearly $1bn
of plastic Christmas trees, ornaments and lights, tinsel, plastic angels and
bells, Santa suits, framed pictures of Jesus and Bible scenes. Hong Kong and
Taiwanese companies that make goods for the likes of Hasbro (whose brands
include Action Man and Bob the Builder), Mattel (makers of Barbie) and Disney
have shifted production to the Chinese mainland, lured by the plentiful
supply of cheap, unregulated labour.
China has 6,000 manufacturers, largely funded by foreign companies and
clustered in the Pearl River delta, or Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.
Dr Anita Chan, an expert on Chinese labour issues at the Austrian National
University, said: "People who buy toys should care, [because] conditions in
the toy sector are probably worse than other factories." Sixty per cent of
the toy workers are women between 17 and 23 who live in cramped company
dormitories, 15 to a room, earning 30 cents an hour painting colours with a
brush or spraying, or clipping the pieces together. Most get only two days
off a month.
Inhaling the spray paints, glue fumes and toxic dust is a health hazard,
causing dizziness, headaches and rashes. Over time, it can be fatal. The case
of 19-year-old Li Chunmei, who fainted on the production line and died hours
later, was reported by The Washington Post this year and taken up by trade
unions in America. But such deaths are common in the Pearl river delta. This
year, China introduced laws on health and safety but campaigners say these
make the workers responsible for compliance and are hard to enforce.
Of the remaining $2, $1 is shared by the management and transportation in
Hong Kong, and 65 cents goes to the raw materials. The remaining 35 cents is
earned by producers in China for providing the factory sites, labour and
Although big companies including Disney have drawn up codes of conduct,
enforcing them in China is not easy. Dr Chan said: "My guess is that big
factories might have shown improvement, but not the smaller
Chinese workers had the right to strike in the 1954 constitution but this was
taken away when it was amended in 1982. Now that the Communist Party is
privatising the means of production, legal experts say the only logical step
is for the workers to be allowed trade union freedoms.