Prominent Chinese female economists holding an audience with Yellen labeled as betrayers

**Chinese Female Economists and Entrepreneurs Criticized for Meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen**

A group of Chinese female economists and entrepreneurs who recently dined with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have faced criticism from online nationalists in China. The criticism centered around the accusation that these women had betrayed their country by interacting with the US official. While exact details of the meeting were not disclosed by the Treasury department, a group photograph of the gathering posted on China’s equivalent to Twitter, Weibo, was used to identify some of the participants. This sparked outrage among online nationalists who questioned the intentions of the women and speculated that they may have had to provide something in return for the meal.

**Outrage and Accusations of Betrayal**

Shen Yi, a professor in international politics at Fudan University, expressed his skepticism about the meeting, suggesting that the women may have had to deliver key performance indicators (KPIs) to the US government in exchange for the meal. Shen Yi’s comments fueled the online backlash against the two women who had shared their experience on social media: Liu Qian and Hao Jingfang. Liu Qian, the Economist Group’s managing director for Greater China, and Hao Jingfang, an author who previously worked for the China Development Research Foundation, were specifically targeted for attending the dinner.

Hao Jingfang, known for her award-winning novel “Folding Beijing,” which addresses income inequality, responded to a question about her attendance at the dinner by stating that Yellen is a friendly American official dedicated to developing friendly China-US relations. However, this response only intensified the backlash, with some accusing her of being an “American spy.” Another criticism leveled against the women selected for the dinner was their elite status and lack of experience working in factories, as highlighted in a comment that garnered hundreds of responses.

**Yellen’s Emphasis on Female Representation**

Yellen’s decision to engage with women economists and entrepreneurs reflects her commitment to promoting female representation in elite decision-making. This emphasis on gender equality was evident during her four-day trip to Beijing, where the Chinese government exclusively presented male officials to meet with the first woman to lead the US Treasury. Yellen acknowledged the lack of female representation, stating that she often finds herself as the only woman in the room and that many of the women present at the meeting likely share the same experience.

President Xi Jinping’s decision to exclude women from China’s top leadership at the previous year’s congress coupled with the country’s encouragement of women to adopt traditional caregiving roles amidst a record low birth rate further highlights the importance of Yellen’s message on women’s participation in the workforce.

**Backlash Against Foreign Female Journalists**

The backlash against these Chinese women for interacting with Yellen echoes previous attacks on foreign female journalists of ethnic Chinese origin working for Western news organizations. These attacks often involve disparaging their coverage of China and making crude sexual innuendos, including threats of physical violence. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China has highlighted this issue in a report, bringing attention to the challenges faced by female journalists reporting on China.

**Importance of Women’s Participation in the Workforce**

In response to the criticism, the Treasury emphasized the importance of women’s participation in the workforce as a driver of inclusive growth. The statement issued by the Treasury after Yellen’s meeting highlighted the significant contributions women make to economics and the importance of reflecting society’s priorities in economic research and policymaking.

By engaging with female economists and entrepreneurs in China, Yellen signals her commitment to promoting gender equality and fostering stronger ties between the US and China. Despite the online nationalist backlash, the value of these interactions and the role of women in shaping economic policies cannot be undermined.

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