A group of Chinese economists who met with the United States Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellenduring the weekend have been attacked on Chinese social media by some netizens who accuse them of treason for meeting her and of being “radical feminists”.
Yellen, a pioneer in the field of economics, had lunch in Beijing on Saturday with six women economists, in an effort to highlight gender diversity after meetings with Chinese government leaders, mostly men.
In a post that elicited nearly 600 comments, an Internet user He claimed that economist Hao Jingfang, who attended the lunch with Yellen, was “not only a traitor, but also a radical feminist.”
Hao wrote online, in response to questions about why she had attended the lunch, that “Yellen is a very gracious American leader, always dedicated to developing friendly China-US relations.”
Some users Yellen was labeled an “obviously dangerous person”wondering why she was allowed to be a public guest in the country, while others they branded female economists as pro-American.
“The anti-espionage law could come in handywrote one user named Shan3847, while another wrote: “They should catch all the people at the table, no one is innocent. The help of the United States to unmask the rebels is always very kind.”.
Before the meeting, a senior Treasury official had said that lunch with Chinese economists would give Yellen, who was also the first woman to head the US Federal Reserve, the opportunity to “interact with a range of people a bit outside the normal economic policy structure”.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decade as general secretary of the ruling Communist Party, the number of women in politics and in senior government positions has decreased and gender gaps in the labor market have widened.
During the four days of the visit, Yellen insisted on the need for greater exchanges and collaboration with China, despite the deep differences between the two powers.
“The sentiment expressed by both sides is that the world is big enough to allow everyone to prosper, cooperate on global challenges and have constructive economic relations,” Yellen said in an interview with CBS News.
Although the visit did not yield specific agreements, the official Chinese news agency xinhua reported late Saturday that Yellen’s meeting with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng led to a pact to “strengthen communication and cooperation in addressing global challenges.”
(With information from Reuters)
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