US commerce chief to meet Chinese women executives in Shanghai

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in Beijing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will wrap up a four-day visit to China on Wednesday with remarks at a conference for women executives, making her the second senior female Biden administration official to reach out to professional women during their travel to China.

THE TAKE: Raimondo's meeting with Chinese women executives in Shanghai is likely to spotlight the lack of gender diversity in China's business and government. It comes after some social media users in China criticized female economists who met with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Beijing in July.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's decade as the ruling Communist Party's general secretary has seen the number of women in politics and top government roles decline, gender gaps in the workforce widen, and the muzzling of feminist voices.

BY THE NUMBERS: Raimondo and Yellen are two of 13 women in President Joe Biden's 25-member cabinet, the most gender-diverse in U.S. history. China, in contrast, has had no women on its 24-member Politburo of the Communist Party since October, a first in 20 years.

China's top female politician is Shen Yiqin, appointed in March as one of five state councillors. She ranks higher than a minister and oversees social welfare, veteran affairs and sports.

Just 19% of Chinese executives are women, compared to 24% in the U.S. and 27% in Australia, a Bain & Co analysis found.

CONTEXT: Raimondo, a trained lawyer and venture capitalist who was the first female governor of Rhode Island, will speak in Shanghai at the 2023 WeForShe Conference hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce's Shanghai’s Women Executive Network.

The United States is trying to stabilize tense relations with China, the world's second-largest economy, while continuing to raise concerns about what it sees as coercive economic practices and human rights abuses.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons and Lisa Shumaker)