Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context
Issue 1, September 1998
Mapping China — Considering the Presentation of Statistical and Cultural Data for Large Readerships

Stephanie Donald

  1. The State of China Atlas is an inter-disciplinary project, undertaken by a communications scholar and a professor of politics in 1996, and due for publication in February 1999. It represents a desire to organise information and data on various aspects of life in contemporary China in an accessible, lively format. At the end of the European century, the Atlas seeks to emphasise the continuing importance of China, and the idea of China to international futures. This entails projections as well as thematic histories, and continually forces the question, how can we map the new, given that projections are built on the already known and quantified? How can we produce space for China in the international imagination?
  2. As one of the authors of the Atlas, I have become increasingly interested in the mode of our address to the readership, as well as in the content and emphases of our narratives. In this paper I am concerned to describe the ways in which choices about presentation have been made, the difficulties which such decisions produce, as well as to explore the connections between image and text which inform every one of the thirty two spreads that are 'the atlas'. As the title of the paper suggests, the chosen mode of communication is a series of maps. I would define a map as that which is drawn, or painted, or constructed on computer, as a means to create mental space, and to understand - spatially - the worlds and societies in which we live. A map uses generic codes and conventions to produce symbolic meanings for a local audience. A map is designed to describe the experienced world in iconic terms, which are almost always culturally specific. So, in Australia for example, there are street maps organised around residential districts and roads, in recognition of a suburban imaginary coupled with a frontier attachment to the ubiquitous and omnipresent car. In these maps space is inscribed through the obliteration of the landscape by modes of transport, land ownership in quarter acre blocks, and an overriding sense of anonymity. There are also Aboriginal maps, which come before the metrics of colonial mapping and seek to forge a pictorial relationship between traditional histories of place, and the aspect of the landscape - as well as charting the lands specific to different tribal groups. These painted maps produce a space that is thick with local resonance. They offer a template for mapping more than power, in an aesthetic where time and space can be visualised as sacred and earthly all at once[2]. Or we could look to the situationist mappers in 1950s and 60s Paris. These deconstructionist cartographers recognise the landscape and the times and space of the city, not exactly as sacred, but certainly as experiential. As the geographer, David Pinder, has argued, Debord and the Parisian situationists were involved both in an 'artistic avant-garde' and in an 'experimental investigation of the free construction of daily life'.[3] These examples allow us to extend the definition of mapping to include the proviso that maps are spatial interventions into the organisation of power in the landscape as it is experienced. A map may be localised by the legibility of its codes, but also by the contingency of its moment of production. In mapping China we have chosen to layer information so that no one topography takes precedence. As I will describe below, we are localised by our contemporary understanding of what matters in China at the end of the twentieth century, and also by our mode of address. We expect our readership to be able to 'see' information; the implication is that we expect readers to also be filmgoers, television spectators and computer users. We are mapping a modernising China for a very particular kind of modern public.
  3. The Atlas is divided into 32 spreads, under 5 sub-headings: Demographics, Economy, Party-State, Culture and Society, Environment. Each section takes key issues and themes, and present macro and micro-data in the form of a map - or series of maps, graphs, charts, and texts - which is both illustrative and narratively coherent. In this way the State of China Atlas both promotes and depends on the visual literacy of the reading public. It expects a reader to be able to negotiate images and iconography in a sophisticated and sceptical manner. The information is there for the taking - but is juxtaposed with other statistics that may at first sight appear to be contradictory.

  4. This type of provocation is intentional. Part of the point of the Atlas is to debunk the sanctity of statistical truths (and part of its problem is that this is done with more statistics!). So, in the populations map 'You Cannot Wrap a Fire in Paper' (above), the population clock in the corner of the spread shows that 25 new Chinese citizens are born every minute. However, on the main image, a colour-coded map of China indicates that population density is extremely unevenly distributed across the hinterlands and the urban conglomerations, especially those on the commercially vibrant eastern seaboard. Then again, a projection of world population between now and the year 2025 suggests that, whilst Asia retains its 60% proportion of world population, China's proportion will slip from 21% to 18%. So what are we saying here? Well, several points are contained in these illustrations. The overarching message is in the sub-title (which the readers need to recognise as a cue to interpretation - and hopefully their training as film spectators will enable them to spot an intertitle as soon as they turn to the first spread), 'China has significantly reduced the birth rate. But in 1996 the population was increasing by more than a million a month.' The message is that China, as an object of scrutiny, cannot be understood in simple terms. It is neither the threatening mass of humanity implied by much racist discourse, nor is it an anti-baby devil-culture, as suggested by much non-Chinese discussion of the one-child policy. China has got a huge population problem. The Chinese government has an overriding responsibility to address this problem, and a one-child policy is part of a package of measures designed to cope with the threat of 'a million a month'. The threat is of course a threat to the health and welfare of all members of the Chinese population, not some conspiracy to overwhelm the West with Chinese 'otherness'. So in this spread at least there is an attempt to combat some perceived prejudices and 'common knowledge' about China that both authors have encountered amongst the general public and in the student bodies, which we teach (in the UK and Australia).[4]

    Reasons to Map
  5. The State of China Atlas is part of a long series of Atlases, which have an explicitly political agenda. The series has been running for fifteen years. Authors and designers are briefed to produce books with unpalatable information in unequivocally consumable formats. The series includes: The State of the World; The State of the Environment; The State of War and Peace; The State of Women in the World; The State of Germany; The State of Sex; and The State of Futures. Atlases are published in English, French, German, and sometimes Japanese editions. Some Atlas authors are brought in for a specific project, others work across the board. All share a commitment to political expression. They have at least two reasons to map information. The first is to do with content, and the authorial question, how can I/we get our interpretation of statistical 'facts' out there, to a wide audience? The atlases are a great solution to this conundrum. They are colourful, readable in short bursts, say on a train or plane journey, and they are published at affordable prices (an Atlas retails at about eleven English pounds). They will slip into popular retail outlets as reference works, as travel aids, and as student textbooks. The format thrives on the sheer amount of information for money, whilst masking the level of scholarly emphasis contained in its organisation. The second reason to map is that the format lends itself to contemporary conditions of publication and readership. As this paper, with its illustrative material, aims to demonstrate, computer generated imagery works well on paper, but even better on the screen itself. The Atlas designs are produced on a Mac and contain all the satisfying volumetric fatness and plasticity of the virtual image. This does not translate perfectly to a page - although it does to CD ROM versions of the book - but, given the computer literacy of the reading public, much of the pleasure will be programmed in by their recognition of computer formations. It is arguable that even the colours that are generated on screen are familiar to the film-going, television-watching reader. A child who has seen Disney's 1996, Toy Story and the 1950 Cinderella knows the difference between computerised colour and paint and trace. Atlases then play on a contemporary visuality in readership. They offer a postmodern knowingness in their presentation, which addresses the reader's visual skills whilst challenging her conceptual understanding of China, Sex, Futures, War and Peace, and so on. That is the good news. The bad news is that electronically prepared data is still data. It has been collected by governmental agencies (most of our raw data comes from Chinese Statistical Yearbooks), and then selected, prepared and modeled into a graphic narrative by very particular cultural subjects (a political scientist and a cultural analyst; American and British; domiciled in the UK and Australia), each with our own mental maps. Our decisions will involve prioritisation and mediation of the available material, and both are discursive practices. The power of discourse lies of course in its speakers' facility of self-deception and self-legitimation. Priorities and mediations easily slip into totalising statements about the truest version of a state of affairs. We need to recognise that our stated reasons to map will be influenced by many more of which we are scarcely aware.
  6. There are other, older reasons to map. These might be worth considering in this glossy macworld context, as I think that they impact on how authors conceive of pictorial information, and how readers consume it. Tom Conley, following David Buisseret, and writing of the growth of European mapping in late mediaeval Europe, has suggested six reasons to map. I will discuss these briefly and then go on to consider Chinese cartography and other more recent cartographic impulses.
  7. Early Europeans, teetering on the brink of the modern era (from approximately the eleventh century AD), mapped an admiration for Antiquity, the desire to inscribe an emerging scientific imagination, to record private property, to give form to nation building and projects of political unification, to produce realism as an aesthetic requirement, and to pursue the modern self, the subject.
  8. In Conley's terms the mapping of private property, and the organisation of modern national spatial consciousness, impacts on the final summation - the approximation of space in order to map the modern man, the self.

      The cartographic genre displays, in a nutshell, various images of emergent, autonomous subjects - writers and cartographers alike - whose projected being finds a delicately nascent place in tensions of discourse and space. The self is visible only when it achieves the effect of totality, of having engineered a world through its own labours.[5]

  9. This poses a problem for the late twentieth century cartographic imagination, especially when mapping China. The problem with China, for the West, is that most non-Chinese still possess very limited knowledge of how the citizens of the People's Republic feel, live, work, love and play. Western spectatorship relies on film accounts which simultaneously de-modernise and exoticise (Zhang Yimu's early Gong Li films), or demonise (recent British documentaries on orphan girls 'The Dying Rooms' and the sexual exploits of Mao Zedong spring to mind) the People's Republic of China. How can a map of China be placed on the page so it produces a different set of connotations, so that the collective self, which emerges from the image, is not just a reiteration of Western fear and loathing? How can China occupy space without being assumed to occupy a place in the East, which will situate modernity, and the modern self, in a place in the West? It is a twofold problem. Whilst European cartographers were sketching themselves into a totalised vision of the world, and new worlds of European domination; Chinese cartographers were drawing the Central Kingdom (China - Zhongguo). The Europeans started a tradition of establishing their presence as selves, nations, and projects (of Enlightenment, colonial domination) in the world. Chinese cartographers meanwhile showed China as the world, plus tributaries. The fear of nothingness, and a mad certainty of everything, which characterises these two psychotic imaginaries, produced two discrete reasons to map. For the Europeans, a map legitimated their ambition for conquest of new space. For the Chinese, a map reproduced the structure of social and cultural continuity within a known world. Both catch themselves up in a cycle of dependency on space as a marker of identity. As Richard Smith points out, Chinese maps of Imperial times could designate a map tianxia 'all under heaven', and proceed to map history, politics, and geography in terms of dynastic rivalry. Even when maps extended their scope to found lands reported by seafarers, the designations still named China, whereas all else were reported as various types of tributary barbarians, designated in the main by their geographical relationship to the Han heartland's of China itself.[6] This is especially significant if we consider that in Confucian philosophy naming is the centre of political existence - and the only type of social existence.
  10. The map of China - or rather the shape of the Chinese state's reach of governance and power - carries therefore long cross cultural connotations of mutual exclusion. To the non-Chinese it may read as a place of mystery, a source of fear - or a large potential market place. In Conley's terms then, the European, and American now also, sees itself in relation to the place and space of Chinese rule as a trader. Chinese readers may see the same thing, but from an entirely different iconographic and historical perspective. Can we as Atlas authors intervene? Can we rearrange the mental maps that precede our own productions? As Henrikson warns: 'The political geographer's "convergence" ... may be like the economist's equilibrium, only a useful norm, something approximated but never obtained'.[7] Perhaps an achievable starting point is to remember that our own positions must be inflected by the statistical and interpretative voices of Chinese experience. Mapping Employment, for example, cannot merely give facts and figures which are readable to those outside China; factors such as class, gender, age, type of industry, internal migration are of course legitimate and important - as well as of interest to western readers already accustomed to thinking about employment in such terms. We also need to ask more China-centred questions when we select and juxtapose data: how does China need to project its employment patterns?

    How do current developments translate themselves into a national imaginary hovering between an immediate history of socialist modernity and a contemporary acceleration into the economic structures of capitalist modernization? What bearing does employment have on the daily lives of Chinese citizens? Should or could the Party-State relinquish power in order to encourage the private sector, or regional economic centres? How do we visually differentiate between the unemployed and the extremely low paid? How can we emphasise the differences in welfare provision in cities and rural areas? How do we find data for the black market, for those in unpaid employment, for labour market movements between country and city? And, crucially, how do we textualise our research in terms of gender differentials? This is a list of rhetorical questions, which I do not propose to answer, other than indicating possibilities in relation to gender in the endnote section, but rather cite them as an indication of the fearful responsibility of mapping. See Appendix, note [8]
  11. The responsibility to map is then to do with the problem of being taken too literally. It is important to convince the reader of the Atlas' veracity and accuracy, but it is also desirable to remind them of what cannot be mapped, of the data that has not been collected. The aim of the Atlas is to visualise the present in the context of the trends of the past, and to project a possible set of futures. In this way it is intended to provide the general reader with the muscle of knowledge through the access to statistical information. But of course even the present is only partially accounted for in existing data. Large constituencies of people and knowledges about their experience are missing. Visibility in the present depends on discursive legitimacy, and political, social or academic visibility and value in the fairly immediate past. Data will only produce projections of what is already visible, and what already, literally counts. The problems of collecting invisible information are very great when we are concerned with the poor, with children, and - especially - with women and matters of sexuality. Judith Mackay, a medical and education professional in Hong Kong, is working on three Atlases: The State of Health, The State of Sex, and The Futures Atlas. This multiple authorship indicates the ambitions of the publishers (Myriad Editions with Penguin Books) to make conceptual connections between social phenomena that are often sidestepped - or are simply invisible - in govenmental and academic organisations of knowledge. But this is part of the problem: as Mackay complains in the context of her researches:

      The first problem I discovered is that there is no global depository of information on sex, unlike health, where worldwide comparable data exist in WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank Archives and many libraries. There is a tremendous dearth of accurate statistics on rape, paedophilia, sexual harassment, sexual practices (never mind attitudes and beliefs), even of age of consent, although this is supposedly defined by law. Not even Interpol has global statistics on sex crimes.[9]

  12. Mackay succeeded in finding data, but not before she realised that sex is usually reduced to sexually transmitted diseases and reproduction. The concept of sex exists, statistically, as an already constituted act, that needs only to be monitored in terms of national populations and national health. Of course, both are important, but the implication of sex itself as being a homogeneous and unproblematic facet of national life gives a distinct impression of patriarchal disinterest in the daily sexual experiences of - especially - women, children and gay men. Even when Mackay did unearth data, the acts surrounding sex, the intentions of sexual advances (dare we quantify love versus brutality versus possessiveness?) were noted only as statistical side effects of other motivations, generally the marketing of sexual products (condoms for example). The 1995 Durex survey of 10,000 people in 15 countries surveyed only those between 16-18 and 45 (83% of respondents were under 39 years of age) leaving us with little idea of older men and women.[10]
  13. Visualising the present is not straightforward in the face of these absences. The problem is especially acute when a central government exercises enormous control even over the meaning of last year's statistics. We had particular difficulty in counting the number and growth of cities over the last twenty years, as the political status of cities, towns and metropolitan districts has been altered between one yearbook and the next - with little explanation of resulting inconsistencies. Conveying what explanation we could piece together would be word-intensive, and would undermine the immediacy of the spread on urbanisation and rural development. The address to the readership necessitates a blend of detail and certainty, microscopically detailed numbers juxtaposed with internationally legible symbolism.

    The Dragon's Navel

  14. China is often symbolised by a dragon. It is a mythical symbol, which has an auspicious character, and is used in architecture, decoration and industrial brand names and restaurants, both in China itself and across the diaspora. The semiotic effect has been that what is auspicious in Chinese symbolism has come to mean a general 'Chineseness' in international symbolic terms. The map entitled, 'When an Arrow is on a String it must Go', gives the shape of China as a dragon's head. On its Southeastern seaboard, the commercially fertile areas of Guangzhou and Guangxi become its claws, whilst Hong Kong, hovers metaphorically around the dragon's navel. This choice of image is not as banal as it might first appear, or at least I hope not. The history of China and the western colonialists is a tortured one. Hong Kong's recent return to Chinese sovereignty marked a cartographic shift of profound historical resonance. For one thing, the United Kingdom must now forego the pleasure of mapping itself when mapping China. For a century China has not been able to contemplate its own navel without being reminded of its history and contemporary compromises. As Smith argues, China started to map the world at the moment (the late nineteenth century), when it most needed to be itself again. [11]
  15. Economic colonisation, threats from Japan and the Western powers led China to a brink of national despair. The articulation of that despair, in the May 4th student movements and the military and ideological resistances of the 1920s, 30s and 40s, was a modern reaction to the already postmodern dislocations of invasion and economic pillage. In a similar vein the dragon map is an emblematic - and hopefully ironic - return to the European notion of China as a premodern, homogeneous exotic shape. The map is all about trade and China's trading partners in an era when China has returned to its position as centre of the world - but in a post-colonial condition. Her tributaries still range around her, according to a new mental map in which size and position is determined by statistical commercial importance.[12]
  16. China's navel, Hong Kong, was symptomatic of why China had to map itself into the world. Now it is an emblem of China's international status as an emerging world power, with mostly fair-weather friends, but few self-declared enemies. It is also likely to erupt as a continuing symbol of difference within the national body. China may have to start keeping quite a close eye on its navel, in order to gauge the mood of the citizen-body. As mappers of China we also face an immediate problem of how to 'show' Hong Kong on the spreads. If we mark it every time, through emphasising its statistical presence, what discursive priorities are we upholding? Is it an implicitly colonial nostalgia that suggests Hong Kong to me as a British (Australian) cartographer? Or am I simply recognising a current, and very possibly transitory fascination, with the state of Hong Kong. It is after all rather like a political Haley's Comet. Nations, that are not 'quite' nations, are susceptible to changes in sovereignty, but surely not often on the ideological scale of the 1997 handover. What was red, white and blue, became red. What was colonial became sovereign. What was Chinese became curiously more Chinese, as the world was suddenly forced to realise that Chineseness is not an unproblematic description. It is a designation fraught with history, cultural specificity and politico-economic desire, and, at least in this case, it has a lot to do with Britain as well as China. Mapping China is still all to do with the organisation of power in space, the prioritisation of forms of knowledge, and a discursive imprisonment to geographical shapes. In The State of China Atlas we have tried to produce a mental map of China which takes into account more than immediate prejudices, fears, and commercial interests. At the same time, we recognise that interest in our maps is likely to be fired by just those fears, prejudices and the need to trade.<


    [1] This paper contains material presented in a paper, 'Mapping Employment' by Robert Benewick and Stephanie Donald at the conference 'Employment: A Common Mission of the European Union and China', Beijing April 28-30, 1998. Thanks to Richard Smith, Cathy Waldby, and Richard Read for their comments and references.

    All illustrations are copyright İMyriad Editions. The State of China Atlas, forthcoming, publisher/distributor Penguin Books, 1999. Additional information on other Atlases from Candida Lacey.

    [2] See for example: Krim Benterrak, Stephen Muecke and Paddy Roe, Reading the Country, Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1996, and discussion of Aboriginal mapping in D. Turnbull, Maps are Territories: Science is an Atlas, Geelong, Victoria: Deakin University Press, 1989.

    [3] David Pinder 'Subverting Cartography: the situationists and maps of the city', Environment and Planning A, 28, (1994): 402-27, this quote p. 413.

    [4] The level of Australian student knowledge of Asia has been 'mapped' in an article by Curtis Andressen, 'Mental maps of Asia: The Geographical Knowledge of Australian University Students' Asian Studies Review, 21, 1, (July 1997): 115-30.

    [5] Tom Conley, The Self-made Map: Cartographic Writing in Early Modern France, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996, p. 6.

    [6] See Richard J. Smith, 'Mapping China's World: Cultural Cartography in late Imperial times,' in Wen-hsin Yeh and Steven West (eds.), Landscape, Culture and Power in Chinese Society, Berkeley: Institute for East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1998, forthcoming.

    [7] Allan K. Henrikson, 'The Geographical "Mental Maps" of American Foreign Policy Makers', International Political Science Review, 1, 4, (1980): 495-530, this quote, p. 502.

    [8]Appendix: Textualising Gender in The State of China Atlas

    The Population Gender Gap

    Fertility rates in China are confused by a continuing bias towards male children. This is particularly true in rural areas, where boys are seen as more productive in agricultural work, and more valuable to ageing parents in a patrilocal marriage culture and a state with no fixed pension plan. The impact of small-family policies has been severe for girl children in these areas, and Government posters extolling the worth of girls were common in the eighties. Stories of abandonment and neglect are not uncommon, and recent tales of sale of brides and abductions - of adolescent girls and young women - suggests a widening gap in gender proportions amongst the under 30s.

    Table A. China, Age 0-14 Provincial Population Sex Ratios

    Source: Banister, Judith, Population Dynamics and Economic Implications, Congressional Study Papers, 1995, p. 355, quoting China Provincial 1990 Census Volumes. The lowest sex ratio occurs in the provinces occupied by minority peoples and who therefore are not subject to the same levels of family planning.
    Sex Ratio
    105.5 or lower
    105.6 to 107.0
    107.1 to 108.5
    108.6 to 110.0
    110.1 or above
    Ningxia, Heilongjiang, Tibet, Qinghai, Ningxia, Shanghai
    Yunnan, Guizhou, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Jilin, Beijing, Tianjin
    Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Jiangxi, Fujian, Hunan
    Sichuan, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Hubei
    Guanxi, Guandong, Hainan, Zhejiang

    The story is not straightforward however. Urban Chinese are rearing highly educated single girl children. There is also actually a decline in the male population being reported in the long term. Fewer babies are born at one end of the spectrum, whilst at the other advances in healthcare are increasing longevity. This is specially so for women who are living longer than their male counterparts, a situation which is likely to be exacerbated by heavy tobacco use amongst adult Chinese men. In rural areas, moreover, a revised flexible policy is in place to combat the problems arising from the one child policy. Minority rural couples may now have a maximum of three children - if the first two are girls. Han rural people are usually allowed two children, if the first is a girl.
    Table B. China Population by Gender (in 10000 persons)
    Source: Chinese State Statistical Yearbook, 1996.



    % of Total


    % of Total


    Table C. Life Expectancy at Ages 60 and 65 for 1990, 2000, 2010, 2020
    Sources: China Urban-Rural Projection, International programs Center, U.S. Bureau of the Census; Loraine A. West: 'Pension Reform in China: Some Implications for Labour Markets'. Paper Given at the America Asia Studies Assoxiation Congress, April 11-14, 1996, p. 37.

    Life Expectancy at Age 60

















    Life Expectancy at Age 65


















    Equality and Inequality

    The extraordinary results of Deng Xiaoping's Four Modernizations' policies have not overcome the common global experience of uneven development. The regions of China show different rates of benefit from the economic revolutions of the last twenty years. The main disparities lie between the urban and rural populations, between male and female workers, and between the eastern states and the western hinterlands, while there is still a noticeable discrepancy between male and female literacy levels. Economic rationalisation is causing further hardships as state-run industries can no longer afford to honour their welfare commitments to retired and redundant workers. The reduction of poverty has therefore become a major challenge to domestic and international financial policy makers. China has an unrivalled position as the world's greatest labour market. Its status as a consumers' market will be dependent on narrowing levels of inequality across its territory and populations.

    Table D. Social Indicators: Women in China
    Source: UNICEF Country Profile (UNICEF, p. 5.)

    Female Life Expectancy (as % of male)           104
    Adult literacy rate (%)                                      78
    Male/Female literacy rate (%)                      87/68
    Pregnant women immunized against tetanus (%) 3

    Tourism, individual child-care and domestic help, and restaurant services are industries which characterise the new China. Ironically, it was increased political action during the Cultural Revolution that marked the beginning of short-term migrations within China. This has been translated into rural-urban migrations for work (often in short-term services, such as nannying and waitressing jobs). Service industries are notoriously underrepresented in industrial laws and domestic workers in particular enjoy little security or protection. However, domestic movement is also developing the tourist industries, whilst the open door policies are producing a two-way boom in international tourism.
    Chinese households are changing in response to new social norms and economic demands. One child families are common in urban areas, and high divorce rates are breaking down family cohesion. Despite these factors, urban dwellers still enjoy much lower personal living space than those in rural areas, and many share cooking and bathroom facilities in apartment blocks owned and managed by State run industries. Income protection for households revolves around the requirement for one member of a household to be employed - and in practice this can mean that jobs are handed from women to men as redundancies occur. For all the changes, women still carry out the majority of domestic tasks, and spend between two thirds and three quarters of their lives on housework and child-rearing.

    Chinese health professionals are trained in western or Chinese medicine, so a variety of skills should be available for high quality, appropriate response to sickness. There is, however, a growing crisis in public healthcare. Many workers do not carry adequate insurance, and those covered by State industry welfare schemes find themselves let down by the poverty of these large organisations, who cannot meet their commitments. SOEs are tightening up the eligibility structures for these schemes, and staff are asked to contribute to the costs of medicine and treatment. This could mean that, in the long term, male workers will not share health benefits with female partners forced to work from home. Despite this projection, women's longevity is still expected to rise faster than men's in the next fifty years. Attention to population control, contraceptive methods, and therefore to reproductive health, is a major factor in this phenomenon.
    Table E. Contraceptive Methods

    Source: UNICEF Country Profile, (UNICEF,, p. 6.) 'China is now attempting to promote a "small family culture" while experimenting with more flexible alternatives to the one-child approach, such as promoting delayed marriage and greater intervals between births. In 1993, the State Family Planning Commission reported that 83.4% of eligible married couples were using contraceptives. Abortion is common: there were 37.5 per thousand among women 15-44 years of age in 1989, an estimated 70% due to contraceptive failure.' (ibid).
    Contraceptive Methods %

    Female Sterilization
    Male Sterilization

    [9] Judith Mackay, personal email communication to author, 9.10.97.
    [10] Judith Mackay, personal email communication to author, 9.10.97.
    [11] See Richard J. Smith, 'Mapping China's World: Cultural Cartography in late Imperial times,' in Wen-hsin Yeh and Steven West (eds.), Landscape, Culture and Power in Chinese Society, Berkeley: Institute for East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1998, forthcoming.
    [12] A popular domestic description of China is a chicken: the head is the industrial North East, the throat is Beijing (vulnerable centre of power and crisis); the stomach - the South, centre of gourmandise (and latterly overt commercial consumption), the navel - Hong Kong (again), and the tail - the North West (just a mass of useless fluff).


This paper was originally published in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, with the assistance of Murdoch University.

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