Chinese Women

Never underestimate Chinese women

Don’t underestimate them, the Chinese women. They’re not wimps. They are way more strongminded than Chinese men. In China, it is the women who wear the pants. The labour force participation of women in China is the highest of the world. No other country on this planet has so many female engineers, scientists, mathematicians or other STEM graduates as in China. More than half of the Mensa China members are women.

Chinese women are in no way comparable with Japanese women.

The ruling rěn (忍)

The Chinese are way too Confucian-Daoist-Buddhist to express their disillusionment to Westerners’ faces outwardly, but among themselves, they can be quite open about it. From personal experience, I can say that a few rounds of beer or spirits can bring out the truth. I also hear it when speaking Mandarin with them.

Once they realize that I really am on their side, only then, they will vent their spleens, politely I might add. But again, most of the time, Westerners are clueless and kept in the dark. All of this goes back to the ancient notion of rěn (忍) which means to forbear or endure. The top half of the Chinese character is a knife (刃) and the bottom half is the heart (心), as can be seen in the enlarged character here.

So, rěn is a knife coming down on top of you. You can’t escape it, and it is cutting into your heart. Not killing you but hurting you, and you have to take it, endure it. The four parts which look like commas represent drops of blood. Rěn is serious business. Rěn is considered the apex of great leadership[efn_note]Jeff J. Brown, “All the Chinese People Want is Respect” Chinarising Puntopress, 20.10.2019[/efn_note] and the ideal civilisation among the citizens, between each other and other nations.

There are dozens of different words and idioms centred on rěn and its concept of endurance, patience and tolerance.

The Chinese endure endless foreign insults with a famous axiom, rěn bēi qiáng xiào (忍悲强笑), which means to endure sadness with a forced smile. Notice the second character for sadness (悲) also has the symbol for the heart at the bottom of the character.

In English, there is a similar saying: ‘grin and bear it’. But Westerners do not base their entire system of governance and people’s civilisation on it. The Chinese do and have been doing so for 5000 years. Confucius codified it into statecraft and sociocultural protocol. Laozi made it into a philosophy (Daoism) and Buddha (albeit an Indian import) turned it into a world religion.[efn_note]Frans Vandenbosch in Statecraft and Society in China page 54.  24.09.2023.  ISBN: 978-9-46433-732-7[/efn_note]

The way in which Meng Wanzhou, the “Princess of Huawei” has endured the excruciating humiliations of the American rulers is a textbook example of rěn 忍, enduring hardship with a forced smile.

In business

I have met dozens of business women in China. Especially in business negotiations, they’re unfathomable. And unfortunately for the people at the other side of the table, they read you as a book and see through every manoeuvre you make. Moreover, they do not hesitate to use their feminine charms during negotiations. They’re way more relentless and driven than Chinese men.

No other country at this globe has so much female business tycoons as China.

In the PLA

Long gone are the days when female soldiers in the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) only took on duties as nurses. Today they are especially snipers, programmers, scouts, researchers, communications experts, peace keeping forces. Also at the PLA they have discovered the strong and persistent determination of the Chinese women.

Look at their movements, look at their facial expressions. These are fighting machines:

Listen to their decisive and resolute words:

Who will defeat this highly motivated army of women, ready to endure hardship with a smile?

In politics

In the early eighties, there was a saying in China: “During daytime it is  邓小平  Dèng Xiǎopíng who’s ruling the country, but after sunset, it is 邓丽君 Dèng Lìjūn (Teresa Teng) who’s the star of the Great Motherland.”

In Chinese politics, there’s a strong woman behind every politician. Almost all Chinese politicians are engineers or at least STEM graduates, working ten to twelve hours per day. Without the support of their wife, they can’t sustain the pace.

Another Dèng, madame  邓新华 Dèng Xīnhuá, director of the Confucius Institute in Leuven is another example of the unrelenting determination of Chinese women.

The Tiger Mothers

Tiger parenting is a typically Chinese phenomenon. It is a way of strict upbringing of a child, whereby parents, almost always the mother or aunts, highly invest in ensuring the child’s success. Specifically, Tiger Mothers push their child(ren) to attain high levels of academic achievement or success in high-status extracurricular activities such as music or sports.

The term “Tiger Mother” has existed for centuries in China, but it was brought to western public attention by Yale Law School professor Amy Chua in her 2011 memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Do not read the Wikipedia entry on this subject, as it is highly American biased; instead read Amy Chua’s book which is gripping and compelling.

The Shengnu

Shèngnǚ 剩女, commonly known as “leftover ladies” are the 30+ year-old ladies who have deliberately chosen to be single. Almost all of these women are highly educated and well off. Most of them do not live in solitude but are fully integrated into society. Some of them have changing relationships or a permanent toy boy.

Due to rapidly declining birth rates, successive government campaigns have attempted to combat the shèngnǚ phenomenon. But that did not go down well on social media. The Chinese government was forced to stop the anti-shèngnǚ campaigns.

Shanghainese women

The Shanghainese women, those born in Shanghai from Shanghainese parents, are in various ways a breed apart. In China, the phenomenon is known as the “Shanghai Princess.”

Again, it is the Shanghainese mothers who teach and train their daughters to behave like princesses. And likewise bring up their sons to serve their future “princess.”

As per the Shanghainese traditions, it is the men who are responsible for the family income; it is the men who do the daily food shopping and prepare the dinner.

Outside Shanghai, in the rest of China, parents recommend their daughters to try to catch a Shanghainese young man and warn their sons to watch out for Shanghainese princesses.

Never underestimate Chinese women

Chinese women rule their families, rule China and soon will rule the world.

  • Originally published at

    Frans Vandenbosch is a Fleming who lived in China for years. Previously, he has crossed all of China and visited more than 50 large and small towns and cities throughout the country. Read other articles by Frans, or visit Frans's website.