Giant steps toward the democratization of access to power in China as old walls of gender divides dissipate?
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Chinese erotic film star enters politics
A former erotic movie star who fans call “The Divine Bosom” has launched herself into the stuffy world of Chinese politics, claiming sexiness is no obstacle to serving one’s country.
By Tom Phillips
Source – The Telegraph, published February 13, 2013
Peng Dan – also known as Diana Pang – is a trained ballerina from the Chinese city of Changsha who found fame in Hong Kong performing in so-called “category three” movies.
Ms Peng’s decision to join the conservative and male-dominated world of Chinese politics has been raising eyebrows since January when it emerged she had become a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) in the western province of Gansu.
The state-run Global Times questioned whether the presence of a woman known for “skin flicks” and her “hourglass figure” might transform Chinese politics into a “laughing stock”.
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Another newspaper, the Beijing News, even ran an opinion poll, asking readers if they approved of her actions. Over 46 per cent said they deemed her move “inappropriate” while nearly 37 per cent said Ms Peng should be judged on her performance.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph this week, the 40-year-old actress shrugged off her critics, claiming there was no contradiction between being sexy and patriotic.
“I don’t think it poses any problems,” she said. “There is no conflict between being fashionable and sexy and being patriotic and participating in affairs of state.”
Ms Peng shot to fame during the mid-1990s, starring in a series of risqué Hong Kong productions including ‘Erotic Ghost Story: Perfect Match’, ‘Midnight Caller’ and ‘The Six Devil Woman’. She subsequently turned her back on erotic films, instead acting in revolutionary period dramas and patriotic films with names such as ‘Lovely China’.
Once an icon for Chinese men, Ms Peng said he now hoped to inspire women to involve themselves in their country’s political future.
“I think it is a good thing that women take part in deciding and managing affairs of state,” she said, pointing to female leaders such as South Korea’s first female president, Park Geun Hye, the German chancellor Angela Merkel and the US’ former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
“For one thing, they can better represent the interests of women. Secondly, they have an advantage as women, particularly in terms of diplomacy, since women are more approachable and gentle, more thoughtful and sensitive. [Having more female politicians] is a sign of the progress of civilisation.”
Ms Peng insisted she had concrete policy proposals, including plans to use tax breaks to lure film producers to a new production hub in Dunhuang, along the ancient Silk Road in Gansu province.
“Gansu has a long history and a rich culture. It just needs some strong actions to develop them,” she said.
Ms Peng said she also intended to help tackle one of China’s most urgent social questions: the dramatic wealth gap between rich and poor.
“The wealth gap is also a big political issue. The more people get involved in charity work the more we can narrow the wealth gap,” she said.
Echoing calls from China’s incoming president, Xi Jinping, for politicians to “reconnect” with the country’s masses, Ms Peng vowed to reach out to the poor.
“If members of the CPPCC are detached from the people and never visit the grassroots, how can they come up with proposals that reflect the real lives and demands of the people?” she said.
While Chinese micro-bloggers have questioned her aptitude for the role, Ms Peng said her Communist roots would stand her in good stead.
“I am from a Red Army family. My mother’s father used to tell me Red Army stories. I thought it was just preaching at the time. But [later] I came to fully understand the difficult lives our ancestors had.”
During her political debut, at Gansu’s legislative assembly in January, Ms Peng said she believed she had got off on the right foot “During eight days of meetings, not once did I ask for time off, arrive late or leave early,” she said. “I took the bus – like everyone else – and I wore jeans.”