President Joe Biden appeared to reference a quote from Mao Zedong, the late Chinese Communist Chairman, in remarks about gender equality.
The story: Biden made the comments during an address to the graduating class at the United States Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.
In New London on Wednesday, the president noted that the USCG’s graduating class is one-third female, said there was a lack of women in the workplace, and told the class there is “a Chinese saying” that reflected his thoughts on the issue.
What he said: “There’s a saying, used in a different context, a Chinese saying that says, ‘Women hold up half the world,” Biden said. “It’s an absolute stupid position not to make sure [women] represent at least half of what we do.”
What Mao said: The leader of the Chinese Communist Party said that “women hold up half the sky,” in the 1950s. He used the remark to promote the CCP’s “Great Leap Forward” social campaign effort which resulted in tens of millions of deaths.
Not a first: Biden has used the “women hold up half the sky” quote at least twice so far. The Washington Examiner reported that he mentioned it during a 2020 fundraiser in July and referenced it in an interview on ABC News while explaining why he chose Kamala Harris, a then-California Senator, as his running mate.
“We’ve got to get real economic relief into women’s hands now. Women hold up half the sky,” he said at the fundraiser.
“Fifty-one percent of the people in this country are women. As that old expression goes, ‘women hold up half the sky.,” he said during the interview.
Worth noting: Biden’s campaign senior adviser Anita Dunn said back in 2009 that Mao is one of her “favorite political philosophers.”
“Mao Zedong said, ‘You fight your war, and I’ll fight mine.’ Think about that for a second. You don’t have to accept the definition of how to do things, and you don’t have to follow other people’s choices and paths. You fight your own war. You lay out your own path,” Dunn said at the time.
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