5 things to know about taiwans first female president_00000724.jpg
5 things to know about Taiwan's first female President
01:19 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

A Chinese state media op-ed attacks Taiwan's female president for being single

The article links Tsai's being single to an "extreme and emotional" political style

Internet users accuse state media of being sexist

Beijing CNN  — 

According to an op-ed in an official Chinese state-published newspaper, being an unmarried, childless woman makes Taiwan’s newly inaugurated president unfit for her job.

The lengthy analysis of Tsai Ing-wen published Tuesday by Xinhua linked her single status to her political style and policies.

“As a single female politician, she has no emotional encumbrances of love, no family restraint, no children to worry about. Her political style and tactics are often emotional, personalized, and extreme,” it read.

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As a result, the article declared, Tsai’s approach was more short-term.

“She doesn’t care so much about the direction of political strategies, being more concerned with details. She proposes extreme short-term goals, and does not consider long-term goals.”

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The original Xinhua story has since been taken down, as well as copies posted on other Chinese news portals.

But the piece sparked a storm of criticism online, with users pointing to South Korean President Park Geun-hye and former Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi as successful, single Asian female politicians.

Li Yunlong, a professor at the Central Party School of Communist Party of China, voiced his anger on Weibo – China’s equivalent of Twitter.

“What does being single have to do with her political views … isn’t it naked discrimination against singleton? Chen Shui-bian (former Taiwan president) is married, but isn’t he more extreme? Shouldn’t there be a bottom line for political struggles?”

Others accused state media of being overly sexist and falling ill with “Straight Man Cancer” – a popular Chinese term that refers to chauvinist, judgmental behavior that belittles women. 

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Discrimination increasing?

Under Chairman Mao Zedong, women famously “held up half the sky,” but there is a growing sense that Chinese women today face more, not less, discrimination than in the past.

In 2015, The New York Times reported that women make up fewer than one in 10 board members at the country’s top 300 companies.

And China’s state-run media often appears more concerned with women’s looks and marital status than equal rights.

The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, published an online gallery last year entitled “Beauty with brains.” It featured 18 snapshots of female journalists covering the NPC in Beijing.

And during the Lunar New Year holidays in 2015, a television gala watched by 690 million people included comedy skits mocking overweight and unmarried women. Incensed feminists called for an end to the annual televised extravaganza in an online petition.

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Just weeks earlier, Zhou Guoping, an influential writer, enraged many when he said that “a man can have thousands of ambitions but a woman only one” – to give birth.

Guo Weiqing, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou told CNN that more and more women aren not happy with the gender roles Chinese society ascribes to them, and this year’s string of “sexist incidents” reflects some men’s concerns that women aren’t as “feminine” as they once were.

“They hope women will return to the way they’re supposed to be,” he said.

But judging from many Internet users’ comments, many in China would disagree with that opinion and that strong female leaders like Tsai are role models for how women really should be.

The government in Taiwan did not immediately respond to a request from CNN for comment.

CNN’s Tim Schwarz and Beijing intern Anna Kook contributed to this report.