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Why These Chinese Working Mothers Don’t Want More Babies

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Why These Chinese Working Mothers Don’t Want More Babies

One leads a team at a financial firm and earns more than her husband. Another is pursuing her dream of becoming a civil servant. A third is a budding influencer who aspires to be the family breadwinner.

Each woman is raising one young child and doesn’t want another — no matter what their husbands say, or what incentives the Chinese government, worried about an aging population, is dangling.

Gone are the days of China’s one-child policy. At a recent political forum, President Xi Jinping urged women to take on greater familial responsibilities and “play their unique role in carrying forward the traditional virtues of the Chinese nation.”

These women see a different role for themselves. This generation was born into small families, with many girls growing up as only children — and getting opportunities that used to be given only to boys. Their own mothers, who didn’t have multiple children to care for, typically worked outside the home and set examples for their daughters to do the same.

“I must have my own career.”

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Joyce Zhao, 29, Project manager

Joyce Zhao had worked for three years as a project manager at a small tech company in Beijing and was expecting a promotion. But when she became pregnant with her son, Ming, her prospects dimmed.

Her boss, a woman who had been advocating for her to be given a leadership role, left the team while Ms. Zhao was on a five-month maternity leave. When she returned to work, her new boss told her that she was behind and needed to work harder.

I was drowning in self-doubt, wondering whether having a child at this point in time was the wrong thing to do,” Ms. Zhao said.

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But, she said, she never once thought about quitting her job and staying at home.

“I only have myself to rely on,” Ms. Zhao. “I must have my own career and not give it up for anything.”

A few months after Ming’s first birthday, Ms. Zhao, who is 29, decided to leave her company, and landed a job at one of the biggest tech companies in China.

Her husband would like a second child, but Ms. Zhao is not interested. Her days are already grueling enough. Her four-hour commute to work and long hours mean she gets home way past Ming’s bedtime. She rises at 6:30 a.m. to have one hour to herself to read and exercise, and one hour to play and have breakfast with her son.

After college, Ms. Zhao set aside her dream of becoming a civil servant to pursue a higher-paying job. Now, having checked off marriage and childbearing, she plans to study for the notoriously difficult civil servant exam.

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“I divide my time, energy and money into different parts, saving the biggest part for myself, then the rest go to my parents, husband and son,” Ms. Zhao said. “I can’t let them take all of me.”

“I see no benefits to having two children.”

Guo Chunlei, 32, Influencer

Before Guo Chunlei got married, she worked at a bank in the eastern city of Hangzhou, making about $2,000 a month, decent by Chinese standards. Her parents bought her a small apartment and a car, so she spent most of her paycheck on beauty, fashion and traveling.

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When she decided to have a baby in 2022, her husband and in-laws, who ran a booming family business in construction, encouraged her to switch to a less demanding job to have more time for the child. Ms. Guo agreed and joined a publicly traded company as an accountant. But the work was repetitive and unfulfilling, and she was earning only about a third of what she used to make.

The steep pay cut became a bigger and bigger problem. As her daughter, Tianyi, grew up, expenses began soaring. Early education classes alone ate up a third of her salary.

Seeking extra money, and a sense of purpose, Ms. Guo started a mom-influencer account on the lifestyle app Xiaohongshu last year. A post she composed about planning a traditional Chinese birthday party for her daughter got tens of thousands of views and opened the door to brand collaborations.

She now spends weekday evenings writing captions, editing photos and doing product research. Photo shoots with Tianyi in nearby parks have become a weekend family activity.

Ms. Guo’s account has amassed more than 10,000 followers and brings in more money from product sponsorships than her day job. She’s considering becoming an influencer full time, and would like to take over as her family’s main provider.

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Ms. Guo recalls her own parents sacrificing to provide for her and her younger brother. It made her determined to follow a different path.

“I see no benefits to having two children, for either myself or for Tianyi,” she said.

I want to make something of myself.”

Tang Pingjuan, 36, Financial manager

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Like many working women in China today, Tang Pingjuan, 36, has higher expectations than did many of the women who came before her.

Growing up under the old one-child policy, she got the undivided attention of her father, a train driver, and her mother, a teacher, she recalls. And like many girls in her generation, she was given opportunities that had once been reserved for boys.

When it came time to attend college, Ms. Tang went hundreds of miles away from home to pursue a degree in mathematics, a field dominated by men. (Nearly a third of Chinese women have college degrees now, up from fewer than 1 percent in 1990.)

After graduating, Ms. Tang landed a job in finance and then, at age 25, took a year off and used her savings to travel to more than a dozen countries. Now 36, she leads a team at a private financial company in Guangzhou, the bustling metropolis where she lives with her husband and 4-year-old daughter, Ning.

Ms. Tang earns more than her husband and makes investment decisions for the family.

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Six months after Ning was born, Ms. Tang returned to her office, leaving the baby in the care of a grandmother. On weekends, the family likes splurging on “staycations” at luxury hotels.

Lately, she has been considering a promising job opportunity in the nearby city of Shenzhen, which could mean being separated from her family. Her husband and in-laws oppose the move, but Ms. Tang doesn’t want to be held back. She has not ruled out a second child altogether, she said, but it is not something she is considering now.

“I feel selfish for putting myself before my family, but life is long and I want to make something of myself,” she said.

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Caitlin Clark Not Gloating After WNBA All-Stars Top Olympic Team

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Caitlin Clark Not Gloating After WNBA All-Stars Top Olympic Team

PHOENIX – Caitlin Clark is not going to the Paris Olympics, and Saturday night at Footprint Center it sounded like she didn’t mind at all.

She’s been running at a hectic pace for a year, she said. First the regular college basketball season, then the NCAA Women’s Final Four, right into the WNBA draft, first half of the season and the WNBA All-Star Game. Every move analyzed, every shot dissected. Pardon her if she’d like to take the Olympic break off.

“See you in a month,” she said after the WNBA All-Stars took care of a U.S. Women’s Olympic team that didn’t select her in grand fashion, 117-109. “I’m going to do a few things for myself.”

She said she’s going on vacation and wouldn’t divulge the plans, although some of the time will be spent working out in the gym with her Indiana Fever teammates.

Any vindication she, fellow rookie Angel Reese and game MVP Arike Ogunbowale feel as they remain in the U.S. while Diana Taurasi and company head to Paris trying to win their eighth gold medal in a row was overshadowed by their respect for the players on the U.S. Olympic team.

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“They have plenty of talent on that team,” Clark said. “If anything, it shows how good this league is, how much talent there is in this league. This was a good opportunity to help them prepare. I’ll be rooting for them. I mean, I love the Olympics. I’ve loved the Olympics since I was a little kid. They’re going to be just fine. They’re going to win gold and dominate.”

But there isn’t much time, and they have a lot of work to do, USA coach Cheryl Reeve acknowledged. Her team has one more exhibition game Tuesday in London against Germany, then it’s on to pool play at the Paris Olympics by the end of the week. “We weren’t good at what we were trying to do,” Reeve said.

Asked before the game if she had any second thoughts about not picking Clark, Reeve said: “From me? No.”

Clark dished out 10 assists, a rookie All-Star record and one shy of the record set by Sue Bird in 2017. She added a pair of layups but missed all seven of her 3-point attempts. Reese had 12 points and 11 rebounds, becoming the first rookie to post an All-Star double-double.. Ogunbowale set a WNBA All-Star record with 34 points, 21 alone during the third quarter.

Reeve admitted they all could have been on the Olympic team.

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“We’ve said this for years: The depth of talent we have in the USA, no one has anything close to it,” she said. “There are players not on our team who are great players. Everyone knows that. There’s no suggestion that those players playing for the WNBA aren’t good enough to play for this national team. But only 12 can make it.”

There’s no question the WNBA has reached a watershed moment. Clark has had a major impact on attendance and television exposure both economically and artistically. After a brief period of indoctrination when the veterans bounced her around and hazed her, she’s earned their respect.

She’s 22 years old and it’s all upside for her and the league.

After 25 years of a 12-team format, the WNBA is expanding to San Francisco next season, Toronto soon after and to a 44-game schedule from 40. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert promised 16 teams by 2028 during her pregame media conference.

The event was framed against Suns and Mercury owner Mat Ishbia opening a self-financed $100 million Mercury practice facility just south of the arena, putting them on par at least facility-wise with his NBA Suns.

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The atmosphere was electric both inside and outside the arena Saturday night as a sellout crowd of 16,407 filled the building to the rafters.

“Walking through WNBA Live as I did yesterday and today, the buzz was unlike anything we’ve seen at All-Star Weekend,” Engelbert said. “We had a record 24 partners on hand to celebrate.”

The WNBA has ridden the Clark phenomenon to a new pending media rights deal, plus merchandizing and marketing beyond their wildest imaginations. This is no longer your grandma’s WNBA.

Engelbert cited the highest WNBA attendance overall in 26 years, 16 nationally televised games–14 featuring Clark –that have drawn a million viewers or more. WNBA app usage is up 530%.

“And we’re not even halfway through the season,” she said. “When I stood in front of you at this time last year, I knew we were poised for big things. We were preparing ourselves for big things, but I’m just so thrilled with what we’ve been able to accomplish over the last year.”

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Of course, Clark, Reese and a new wave of WNBA players also came along.

“I’ve been so pleased with Caitlin and all of our rookies,” Engelbert said. “So many of this rookie class, they’re so strong, and they’re performing at the highest level. You guys are all writing about it, which we love. Yeah, I’m really pleased with how that’s working out.”

And why shouldn’t she be pleased? The Fever lead the league with an average attendance of 16,898, 15,306 on the road through 15 games.

And as Engelbert said, they’re only halfway through the season. After the Olympics it’ll be a mad rush to finish the second half and soar into the playoffs.

The first half has been a learning experience for Clark.

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“I feel like from the start of the season to now it’s completely night and day for me,” she said. “I just feel so much more comfortable. Things are starting to slow down. I’m having more time to learn between games. The most exciting thing for me is I still have so much more room to grow.”

That may seem a little scary to the rest of the league. But now, Olympics be damned. It’s time for a little rest. And then back at it.

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Populists shut out of European political systems that favor establishment parties

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Populists shut out of European political systems that favor establishment parties

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LONDON – Voters abandoned mainstream center-right parties for the populist right in the U.K. and French elections this month but failed to convert support to electoral gains amid a right-wing vote split and tactical voting by the left.

Britain’s Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer, won a landslide election victory, scoring 412 seats in the 650-seat Parliament, eclipsing the mainstream Conservative Party that managed to hold on to just 121 seats after losing 244 seats. 

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This was the worst performance in the Conservatives’ nearly two-century history amid the surge of upstart populist Reform Party, led by ‘British Trump’ Nigel Farage, that received over four million votes but gained only five seats.

NIGEL FARAGE SHAKES UP UK ELECTION, ESTABLISHMENT ON RETURN TO POLITICS: ‘BRITISH TRUMP’

Nigel Farage, Leader of Reform UK and local candidate Mark Butcher watch the Denmark v. England UEFA EURO 2024 game at the Armfield club on June 20, 2024, in Blackpool, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

In France, a broad leftist coalition consisting of hardline communists, environmentalists and socialists won 188 out of 577 seats in the parliament, seconded by French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance Ensemble (ENS), which won 161 seats, forming a ruling majority. 

France’s populist National Rally, led by Marine Le Pen, won over 37% of the vote and was the single most popular party among French voters, yet it came third in the number of parliament seats. The mainstream center-right Republicans came a distant fourth, with just 6.2% of the vote.

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“What was quite clear was that this was a rejection of the Conservative Party, the mainstream Conservative party,” Alan Mendoza, the executive director of the London-based Henry Jackson Society, told Fox News Digital. “In France, they got a very high turnout for France, and in that case, it was clear that this was an anti-National Rally election.”

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen, President of the National Rally group in the National Assembly, joins Jordan Bardella, President of the National Rally (Rassemblement National), at the final rally before the recently held European Parliament election on June 9th, (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The elections demonstrated the voters’ persistent support for political movements embracing right-wing populism on issues related to immigration, crime and social issues while abandoning milquetoast traditional center-right parties for failing to bring meaningful change.

Yet, the insurgent populists came up short of converting the widespread support at the voting booth to electoral gains due to tactical voting agreements and support split among right-leaning voters.

FRENCH ELECTIONS: RIOTS ERUPT AFTER LEFT-WING COALITION PROJECTED TO WIN PLURALITY OF SEATS

“In both cases, the left-wing parties were able to maximize their votes, and the right-wing parties were not able to maximize their votes,” Mendoza said. “It’s been said that Labour’s support is a mile wide and an inch deep, but that’s what you need to win British elections with large numbers of support without being focused in certain areas,” Mendoza added about Labour’s lower overall popular support.

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“The reality in France was that various left-wing parties and Macron got together and basically shut the right out, but the right did not do a similar thing. The Republicans stayed in the race and did not give way to the National Rally or vice versa.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron leave the voting booth before voting for the second round of the legislative elections in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, northern France, Sunday, July 7, 2024. (AP)

Le Pen’s National Rally came out on top in the first round of voting last month after campaigning on significantly reducing immigration and crime and improving the economy. 

The populist party was on the cusp of winning the majority of seats in the second round, but the effort was curtailed after a tactical election agreement was struck between Macron’s centrists and the leftist coalition. Both parties agreed to withdraw candidates to avoid splitting the anti-National Rally vote.

Farage’s Reform Party was the third-most-popular party with over four million votes across the U.K., but due to Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system, in which the candidate with the most votes in the area wins the seat, the party ended up with just 1% of the seats in the parliament. 

EUROPEAN VOTERS REJECT SOCIALISM, FAR-LEFT POLICIES IN EU PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS: ‘POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE’

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EU Elections

Farmers hold flags of European countries as they gather to listen to leaders’ speeches during a protest in Brussels, Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Farmers groups hope to sweep the Green Deal climate pact off the table. (AP Photo/Omar Havana) (AP Photo/Omar Havana)

The mainstream Conservatives got over two million more votes than the Reform Party but remain the second-largest political force in the country, prompting calls to reform the electoral system to give more representation based on the total votes.

Despite winning a historic number of seats in the U.K. Parliament, the Labour Party won the election with 9.6 million votes, down by over 600,000 votes, compared to its 2019 election results, when the party led under controversial socialist Jeremy Corbyn suffered two separate election defeats.

“In some cases, the Reform vote was probably mostly conservatives who had left the Conservative Party and decided to go there. But the far bigger component in Britain’s case was people who just decided not to vote at all,” Mendoza said. “The Conservative vote share went down 20 points, and a lot of conservatives who voted Conservative in 2019 just stayed at home and were not inspired by any of the parties.”

New UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks to his supporters at the Tate Modern in London, Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

In the 2019 election, the Conservatives, under the leadership of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, won the majority of the parliament seats after campaigning on a populist platform of “Get Brexit Done.” The Reform Party’s predecessor, the Brexit Party, stood down its candidates in the election to boost the Conservatives.

In the aftermath of the elections, influential Conservative figures argued that the “Conservative family” consisting of the Reform Party and the Conservatives still beat Labour and won the majority of the votes – over 11 million – indicating the voters’ overall right-leaning bent.

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Suella Braverman, a potential Conservative Party leadership contender, criticized the party’s performance in a speech at the Popular Conservatives conference and urged the party to embrace populism for the sake of the party’s future.

“To my mind, the Reform phenomenon was entirely predictable and avoidable and all our own fault,” she told the audience. “It’s no good denigrating Reform voters, it’s no good smearing the Reform party, it’s no good comparing Reform rallies to the rallies of Nuremberg. That’s not going to work. Criticizing people for voting Reform is a fundamental error to make.”

Marine Le Pen

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, meets French far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen at the Élysée Palace on June 21, 2022, in Paris. (Ludovic Marin/Pool/AP)

She further urged the Conservatives to “restore credibility on the core conservative policies that unite” and address the immigration issue, “because we’ve been weak, we’ve been squeamish, we failed to tackle this very pressing concern.”

In France, although failing to gain legislative power, National Rally maintains populist momentum and is eyeing the 2027 presidential elections, with Le Pen primed to take control of the country’s highest office.

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The new parliamentary majority of leftists and centrists, meanwhile, leaves Macron, already deeply unpopular, facing the prospect of presiding over a politically paralyzed hung parliament.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ukraine and Russia fire dozens of drones at each other

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Ukraine and Russia fire dozens of drones at each other

Ukraine said it downed 35 of 39 Russian drones overnight, whilst Russia said it shot down 26 Ukrainian drones over its southern Rostov region on Saturday.

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Ukraine’ air force has reportedly shot down 35 of 39 Iranian made Shahed drones that Russia launched overnight on Sunday.

The air force also said Russia launched three Iskander-M ballistic missiles and two cruise missiles. 

They claimed that the cruise missiles didn’t reach their targets due to Ukraine’s “countermeasures,” but didn’t mention what the Iskander-M missiles hit or whether any damage was caused.

No casualties have been reported.

Russian forces regularly attack civilian areas across Ukraine, but their attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid have intensified in recent months.

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That’s resulted in often severe damage to multiple energy facilities and forced Ukraine to impose lengthy rolling blackouts.

Ukrainian authorities said that the Russian forces launched their attacks on three locations, including Russia’s Kursk Oblast, Primorsko-Akhtarsk – a town in Krasnodar Krai on the Azov Sea coast – and occupied Crimea.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, at least two people were killed and three more injured after a Russian missile strike on infrastructure in the country’s northeastern Kharkiv region, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Saturday.

Ukrainian officials also confirmed that the death toll following a Russian strike on Friday on the city of Mykolaiv near the Black Sea had risen to four. A child was among the victims, said the city’s mayor, Oleksandr Sienkevych.

Writing about the Mykolaiv strike on social media, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that a projectile had hit a playground next to an apartment block.

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“Russia proves every day with its terror that ‘pressure’ is not enough,” he said. “This destruction of life must be stopped. We need new solutions to support our defences. Russia must feel the power of the world.”

Russia’s attacks have left thousands of people without power or running water in the Poltava region of central Ukraine, Governor Filip Pronin said. 

A pulverising Russian onslaught in recent months has forced Kyiv’s troops to withdraw from some towns and villages in the eastern Donetsk region.

Russia’s Defence Ministry also claimed on Saturday that it had shot down 26 Ukrainian drones over Russia’s southern Rostov region, several hundred kilometres from the front line.

Three more drones were destroyed over the Belgorod region, as well as one over the Smolensk region, it said. No casualties were reported.

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