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Xi Jinping's rise to power (2017)
01:53 - Source: CNN

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CNN  — 

The biggest event in China’s political calendar just concluded in Beijing, and the lack of women at the top echelons of power was palpable.

This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping presented his new leadership team to the world on stage in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. Just who would be on the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee was a matter of fierce debate, but on one thing everyone was certain: there would be no women.

The People’s Republic of China has never had a female president, nor have any women served on the Standing Committee, where all key decisions about running the country are made, since the party came to power in 1949.

The next rung down – the 25-member Politburo – previously had only two female members. It now only has one.

China’s lack of female leadership is made all the more stark by the contrast with Hong Kong and Taiwan, both of which are run by women.

Carrie Lam took office as first female leader in Hong Kong, a former British territory now part of China, in July. In Taiwan, a self-governing island China views as a breakaway province, Tsai Ing-wen was elected as its first female president in early 2016. Other countries in the region – South Korea, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore – have also all had women leaders.