Taiwanese President Tsai Ing Wen practices “emotional” and “extreme” politics because she is a single woman, according to a member of China’s political body that handles relations with the self-ruled island of Taiwan. The criticism comes at a time when tensions have been stoked between Beijing and Taipei officials after Tsai indicated that she supports formal Taiwan independence, which challenges Beijing’s “one-China” stance.
In a now-deleted post published this week on China’s state-run news site Xinhuanet, Maj. Gen. Wang Wei Xing — who is also a senior military officer and director of foreign studies with the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Sciences — slammed Tsai for obsessing over details and short-term goals rather than broader strategic issues because of her relationship status, Voice of America reported.
From the human point of view, as a single woman politician, [Tsai] does not have the emotional burden of love, of ‘family’, of children.
“From the human point of view, as a single woman politician, [Tsai] does not have the emotional burden of love, of ‘family’, of children, [so her] political style and executive strategy tends to be emotional, personal and extreme,” Wang wrote in the opinion piece, according to a translation provided by the South China Morning Post.
“When we deal with Tsai, [we] must always consider important factors such as her experience, personality and psychological traits,” Wang added. “This is essentially a contest of will and wisdom.”
Wang also attacked Tsai’s family by stating that because her father had more than one wife, it affected her personality and her sense of security. He also wrote that her family ties to Japan radicalized her because “their historical memory, perception and understanding of the Japanese colonial rule is radically different from feelings shared by the people on both sides of [the Taiwan Strait] who hated and rose against the Japanese enemies.”
Even before Tsai took office last Friday, Chinese officials had begun putting pressure on the “Beijing-skeptic” president who has been more cautious of ties with China than her predecessors. As a member of the pro-independence Democratic Progress Party (DPP), Tsai acknowledged the history of discussions over the so-called 1992 Consensus that defined Taiwan and the mainland as are part of one China. But she stopped short of endorsing the agreement to allow each side to interpret the consensus based on how they choose.
Taiwan has been self-governed separately from mainland China during the Japanese occupation between 1895 and 1945 and since 1949, it has never been been a part of communist China, Radio Free Asia indicated.
Wang’s piece was ordered deleted from all websites because its wording was “inappropriate and its appearance on media sites is having a bad influence on public opinion,” a leaked directive published by the China Digital Times (CDT) reported.
But the damage was already done — Wang’s attack has outraged Taiwanese politicians and citizens, who considered the the attacks to be improper.
Such a personal attack is extremely improper.
“Such a personal attack is extremely improper,” Wang Yu Min, a member of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party in Taiwan, said to the Daily Mail. The KMT party, which favors closer relations with China, had been in control of the presidency for the past eight years. “It’s gender discrimination and we strongly oppose such remarks.”
“It’s such a ridiculous remark and discrimination against single people,” DPP lawmaker Yeh Yi Chin told Agence France-Presse. “Everyone has the right to choose his or her lifestyle by having partners or staying single and that should be respected.”
“This is a backhanded way to launch a personal challenge to Tsai Ing-wen,” Joanna Lei, a female former legislator and chief executive officer of the Chunghua 21st Century think tank in Taiwan, said according to Voice of America. “However, it is very clear that when male politicians are not subject to the same of criticism, female politicians should be subject to such criticism either.”
Wang’s gendered attack is prevalent throughout Chinese culture, where single Chinese women over the age of 27 are considered “leftover women” by the government, which officially adopted the term in 2007. In an All-China Women’s Federation survey of 30,000 men, more than 90 percent said that women should marry before the age of 27 or risk becoming undesirable.
But even beyond Asian culture, Tsai hasn’t been the only powerful female leader to be subjected to gendered slurs. In the United States, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been called “not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench” by a former Second Circuit clerk, while Republican National Committee Chairman called her “abrasive.” Her coworker Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was similarly labeled a “bitch.” Janet Yellen, the first woman Federal Reserve Board, has been called “the bitch of the Fed.” In her memori, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recalled having to cope with being called “bossy, aggressive, emotional.” In 2008, then Republican presidential nominee and current U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) asked “how do we beat the bitch,” referring to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has been called “bossy” by fellow diplomats. And Republicans have attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for being “unnecessarily aggressive.”