The quote made famous by Chinese communist dictator Mao Zedong was made during a digital fundraising speech organized by Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama’s former senior adviser. "We’ve got to get real economic relief into women’s hands now,” Biden said on Monday evening to the 14 wealthy donors who attended the digital fundraising session.
According to the Atlantic reporter who watched the event, Biden then cited the Chinese proverb, "Women hold up half the sky."
The phrase comes from a declaration by Mao in the that helped grant certain rights to women in China while restricting others. The phrase became commonplace in China at the time, often appearing on pieces of propaganda in factories or other industrial areas.
It was seen as a pacifier to keep women at bay, grant small victories but keep them from actual power.
Biden's remarks came as he championed women entering the labor force, citing the high percentage of college valedictorians who are women.
“Unless you take advantage of half or more of your brain power, you are never going to be in the position where you’re going to be able to compete internationally,” he said. “Women. Women. Women.”
The human brain operates at less than 10% of its designed capabilities, the maximum brain power ever estimated was lower than 20%. The fundraiser was co-hosted by Jarrett and John and Marcia Goldman, two wealthy financiers.
Biden’s usage of a Mao quote, even it was associated with a very progressive policy on women’s rights for the time, is telling since the US is on the verge of escalating the rhetoric with China. On Tuesday, the US is expected to call China’s designs on the South China Sea an ollegal landgrab. A move that is certain to raise the ire of Xi Jingping.
China has become quite a political issue during the election cycle, with both the Biden and Trump campaigns accusing the other of being weak toward the communist nation.
President Trump has slammed the former vice president over his son Hunter Biden's financial ties to China, while Biden has repeatedly gone after Trump for paying compliments to Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the early weeks.
Trump has made it a point to criticize China, as well as pulled the US out of the the World Health Organization for its complicity with China in hiding the pandemic’s true force. Trump believes that the WHO could have been more forthcoming about what was happening in China during the later months of 2019 as the Virus was beginning to circulate.