Presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden gave a speech on the value of women’s contributions to society to a group of donors on Monday night, and referenced an “old Chinese proverb” that was actually uttered by one of China’s most notorious figures.
Speaking at a high-dollar digital fundraiser on Monday night, Biden suggested that it was imperative that the government consider another coronavirus relief package, this one aimed at getting stimulus funds into the hands of women, whom he said were responsible for forming the foundation of economic stability.
“For the first time, an economic crisis is hitting industries dominated by women,” Biden said, flanked by former senior Obama administration advisor Valerie Jarrett, the former vice president’s special guest at the digital fundraiser. “We’ve got to get real economic relief into women’s hands now.”
He then quoted what he called an “old Chinese proverb” about women.
“Women hold up half the sky,” Biden said.
The quote, though, is not an “ancient” or “old” proverb, it’s a quote from Mao Zedong, who used it to reference women’s contributions to his utopian Communist society at the beginning of his rule.
“Times have changed…today men and women are equal,” Mao said, notably. “Whatever men comrades can accomplish, women comrades can too.”
“‘Women Hold Up Half The Sky,’ is a proclamation made by Mao Zedong, mainly to prove that women are a resource that ought to be deployed outside of the homes into the professional fields. It is such a powerful statement that affirms that women can do just as much as men can,” one Chinese official told The Drum, a marketing outlet.
Ultimately, though, Communist China under Mao Zedong – and later under a succession of Communist rulers – did not become the feminist paradise suggested by Mao’s vocal commitment to women’s rights. In addition to strict rules curtailing individual freedoms, Mao’s Communist state largely locked women out of positions of power and China has never had a female leader, even though female leadership has become commonplace in Asia.
Biden’s decision to reference Mao without naming him, though, brings up issues that have dogged the former vice president’s campaign for some time – particularly Biden’s and his son’s ongoing relationship with Chinese corporations.
“China has become quite a political issue during the election cycle, with both the Biden and Trump campaigns accusing the other of being weak toward the communist nation,” Fox News reports. “President Trump has slammed the former vice president over his son Hunter Biden’s financial ties to China, while Biden has repeatedly gone after Trump for paying compliments to Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the early weeks.”
The Trump campaign has its own issues with the Communist nation, particularly with regards to President Donald Trump’s relationship to Xi Jinping, perhaps the country’s most despotic leader in decades.