People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 35

August 29, 2010

Seven Memorable Days of China Visit 


Minati Ghosh


ON the invitation of the All China Women’s Federation, six delegates from three organisations of women in India visited China for seven days --- from July 24 to 30. Among the delegates, two were from the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA):  Minati Ghosh, general secretary of the West Bengal state unit of the organisation, and Ashalata Rajan, assistant secretary of the all-India organisation. The others were Gomti Nayyar (president, Delhi unit of the All India Women’s Congress), Asha Deshpande (treasurer of its Maharashtra unit), Dr Usha Shrivastav (secretary, Delhi unit of the National Federation of Indian Women) and Vijimal, an MLA from Kerala.


We arrived of Puddang airport of Shanghai at 8.30 p m Chinese time (Indian time 6.00 p m) on July 25 and we were received very warmly with smiling faces by Shanghai municipality vice chairperson, assistant secretary of international mass communication department of All China women’s Federation, Lee Wang Ling, and another interpreters Mong and Wang. It took us around one hour to reach from airport to the hotel by car. Shanghai town was looking bright and vibrant with elegant lights, flyovers and skyscrapers. The Puddang industrial area is spread over 570 square kilometres. Among the four big towns of China, we visited two --- Shanghai and Beijing.


Following the Women’s Federation’s schedule, we visited Pushan district on July 26. Crossing the Beijing Road, Nankings and Lupo bridge, we reached an Employment Promotion Centre governed by women. Manager Mao Jhu Miyao and other lady employees received us with smiling faces. We came to know from the manager that the centre which was established in 1979, is actually an employment centre. Unemployed men and women, or those who have lost their jobs, can come here to enlist their names for fresh employment. The centre has mainly three aspects --- labour, service and employment. Any one from the age of eighteen onwards can come here for job. They could apply for loans also. They are given proper training. One gets spellbound to see their working atmosphere, discipline and sincerity. Employees were doing their duty silently. There were three branch centres where 39 female workers and 38 male workers work for eight hours daily. They earn 1120 yuan, i.e. Rs 8960, per month.


The city of Pushan, which is one thousand years old, has now been turned into an industrial town by the side of Hanhoe river. There is no sign of illiteracy here.


From here we went to other parts of Pushan district to meet the Women’s Federation leadership. From discussions with Rang, its vice president, we got a picture of women’s development. We were eager to know everything from a country which had had a people’s democratic revolution after two years of India’s independence, to know how a country with the largest population achieved such mighty advancements in various spheres.


We got extremely warm welcome from Federation president Wang Jhee, vice president Jhu Jing Heun, and Tofo from the department of publicity. They said the relationship between China and neighbouring India must be deeper and trustworthy.


They too have village level committees like us. In Shanghai, there are seventeen district and one higher committees. This type of division has administrative advantages in large districts. In Pushan, 400 village level committees mobilise women on economic, political and cultural issues. Training classes are arranged for women’s study, women’s issues, legal knowledge  etc. Leadership training is also provided to women. The federation has introduced different types of training, such as improvement in business matters. Domestic violence is increasing in Shanghai but the organisation has taken preventive measures. Amongst various health programmes, mother and child’s check-up is a monthly affair. In diseases such as cancer, patients are given 40,000 yuan as aid for proper treatment.


We were informed that average wage of home based workers was 1,500 yuan.


We discussed the aims, objectives and activities of the organisation; it was a rich exchange of ideas and information. Later we went to visit a fruit garden, governed by women, spread over 116 hectares of land by Seniti river. Women employees of the garden received us affectionately. The government has donated land to this cooperative. On one side, chicks and ducklings are reared here. This garden meets the Pushan district’s demand of fruits.


Next we visited a garment enterprise producing garments with high technology. Women were working here silently, like a disciplined army. We had discussion with the president of Shanghai municipal Women Federation, Madam Jhang Lily. She told how Chinese women were moving forward in education, health and employment for all. Their motivation and initiatives were worth appreciating. At the same time, social problems are increasing; the rate of divorce is also going up in China. It was revealed in discussion that as Shanghai state is reaching the peak of development, incidents of crimes and other problems were also increasing.


We had opportunity to visit Expo 2010 where 180 countries were represented. According to the plan, we made a round of the pavilions of India, China, UK, United Arab Emirates etc. These countries exhibited their best products --- the gifts of displaying science and technology.


From the documents covering the years 1978 to 1983, we could make out that agriculture and rural development was the main priority of the Chinese government.


We reached Beijing July 28 evening. The city spreads over 16,800 sq km, with green cover. In economic and commercial activities, they are proceeding ahead with a definite plan of development by utilising natural resources and controlling the birth rate.


Apart from rural development, China lays great stress on education, cultural activities, games and sports, health-care etc, with a specific timeframe. Almost all students receive higher education. The country is planning for more development in health and education. The country has made a unique plan that by the year 2020, 75 crore people would be able to live in towns. Simultaneously, more fund is being allotted for rural development. A peasant’s children do not have to pay for education and also get free computer training. Utmost importance is given to the all round development of the child who is the future of the nation.


Due to increasing industrialisation, the area of townships has been increasing every year. But due to modern and scientific method of cultivation, China has surplus in food products. The internal market of China plays a very significant role. They are increasing employment opportunities and going ahead to extend employment areas for males as well as females through the construction of socialist villages. Under the strong leadership of Communist Party of China, development is leading to higher growth, while following the path of socialism. The Women’s Federation is assisting the government in every realm of developmental work and in integrating the economic reforms with social reforms as a step to development. Preservation of water is another important step. To preserve rainwater, the federation has distributed waterpots in desert and drought-prone areas while continuing its campaign in the interior villages with the help of electronic media. It has introduced programmes like free distribution of books and hostel allowance for poor students, free training for occupational education, etc.


We met the director general of the International Department of Women’s Federation in Beijing. Besides its central office, the organisation has its own five-star hotel. Here, Mahang narrated the history of the organisation from its beginning. It was established in 1949 after the revolution, aiming to bring women into the work of reconstruction, to free them from the barrier of age old feudal practices and evils of illiteracy, superstition etc. It is now working for women’s rights and development, simultaneously giving them education and training in science and technology for income generating programmes.


For protection of rights and interests, there were 3149 legal aid institutions in China in 2006 and 541,000 people including 95,000 women received help from these institutions. In recent years, China is implementing a National Plan of Action for combating trafficking in women and children. Women Federation has also taken up the programme of cancer detection.


The rate of child marriage has dropped. Marriage and family situation has  improved with social advancement in all aspects. However, divorce rate has increased from about 1 per thousand in 2000-05 and to 1.59 per thousand in 2007.


Women’s income and social security is increasing. By 2006 end, their annual average income in urban areas amounted to 20,856 yuan, up 14.6 per cent over the previous year. The local government gives subsidy to the poor families and its fund has increased year after year.


The Women’s Federation regularly runs a social awareness campaign through its publications and media. The government has made gender equality a basic state policy.


Madam Jhang Jing, member of the federation’s secretariat invited us for lunch. She had been a minister for information and culture. We exchanged opinion on many issues. To our query about male preference, she replied that in rural areas, especially in the desert areas, parents do prefer a male child because they feel that he would be able to help the family at the time of cultivation. As for family affairs, there is regular competition for mother-in-laws to make their families happy, and the common people of the area cast their votes. The objective is to increase the family bond. In answer to another question, she said there are many organisations of women in China; western ideas are also entering due to the open door policy. Fashion organisations also exist. She was proud to mention the resounding success of the Olympics and the exceedingly well performance of Chinese sports men and women.


On the second half of the day, we visited Dong Ching district where we met Jhang, the CPC’s district working committee secretary. Our bus moved through narrow lanes in Hotong where lower middle class or tribal people live. There we enjoyed dance and music, both classical and modern. Even physically challenged people sang songs and performed dances. Elderly people also participated, and we also joined. There are twelve training centres in the district where aged artists are teach different handicrafts like the making of hats and sports shirts etc. There are also government aided shops where products are sold. Foreign delegates come to these centres again and again to get acquainted with the unique and big art collection of the area. We also saw a special employment fair for graduate youths, both male and female. Micro finance is common in rural areas. Young boys and girls are interested in learning English, both spoken and written.


We met Lee Ping, a professional worker of the community, who stayed in Scotland for one and a half years to learn English.


Dang Shang, in the north-east of middle Beijing, has a female population of 3,12,700. The district is buzzing with political and economic activities. Women Federation was established here in 1958. In different departments, people of the area are busy with development work for mothers and children. We had the opportunity to visit a super specialty hospital of seven floors, governed by women, in Jhana district. There is regular treatment in 22 departments. Poor patients including get proper treatment here, along with VIP patients.


Despite our busy schedule, we also saw the Great Wall of China. When we went to the Forbidden City, we felt the days three thousand years back when Chinese women used to wear iron covered shoes and when farmers faced undefined sorrows and pain.


China is no doubt getting affluent enough today; still it has not deviated from the basic principles of socialism. The socialist market economy takes the people along. In both public and private sectors, efficiency and productivity have increased. There is a spectacle of all round development in various spheres. By 2020, Shanghai may no longer have a petrol car. Smoke from motor cycles will not pollute the surroundings. China has invented a double-cycle vehicle that will not emit smoke. The slogan is --- more invention, more development.


Overall, the experience of our visit to China was truly unforgettable.