The World Economic Forum, an annual gathering of the global elite, kicked off yesterday in Davos, Switzerland. Every year, the Swiss Alps event prompts a massive amount of media commentary on which demographics are being represented—and which ones aren’t—as the world’s rich and powerful attempt to solve the world’s problems through panel discussions. With an average ticket cost of around $20,000, it’s clear which income bracket is being represented, but media have also broken the list down by segment such as nationality and gender.
When it comes to Chinese speakers, 10 rich, powerful, and famous figures will be presenting at sessions throughout the week, including Dalian Wanda CEO Wang Jianlin, who held the label of China’s richest person for a few months in 2013, Wang Yi, China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, and CCTV anchor Rui Chenggang, China’s biggest business journalist.
However, it’s not hard to notice that all the Chinese speakers are men, an unsurprising fact considering the fact that only 15 percent of Davos attendees are women this year.
Although China didn’t send any female speakers to Davos, the country’s percentage of female attendees beats the average at 22 percent, and tops the United States’ 20 percent. In addition, many of them have presented in the past. We took a look at the powerful Chinese women attending this year, and are listing several to watch below:
Listed on Forbes as the 24th richest person in China, billionaire Zhang Xin runs private real estate firm SOHO China, the largest commercial real estate developer in the country. According to Forbes, Xin’s fortune climbed by $1.15 billion in the past year to bring her estimated net worth to $3.8 billion. She’s been named on a plethora of “Most Powerful Women” lists, including Forbes’ “World’s Most Powerful Women” for 2013.
The chairperson of Sun Media Group is one of China’s biggest celebrities, and has been referred to as “China’s Oprah” for her career trajectory from TV host to the founder of a media empire. Like Zhang Xin, she made it into Forbes’ list of the “World’s Most Powerful Women” for 2013, and her fortune is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The chairwoman of Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, since 1999, Sun was ranked on Forbes’ list of the “World’s Most Powerful Women” in 2012. She rose to this position after starting work as a technician at the state-owned Xinxiang Liaoyuan Radio Factory in 1982.
Kathy Gong Xiaosi
At only 28 years old, Gong is the founder and chairwoman of business consulting firm KG Inc., which focuses on bridging business relations between Chinese and international companies. She prepared for this role by serving as the CEO of her family business at age 26, and is the youngest board member of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community. In addition to her list of “youngest” accomplishments, she’s also one of the youngest chess masters in China.
The daughter of Huawei CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei, Meng serves as the company’s executive director and CFO. She made her first public appearance in January last year when the position was announced, and stated that she worked as a secretary, personal assistant, and member of the sales staff before working her way up to the high position at the company.
Elected by China Business Weekly as one of the 50 best investors in China in 2012, Long serves as the managing director of Bertelsmann Asia Investments a company that invests in marketing services, digital publishing, social media platforms, e-commerce solutions/CRM and online education. She is also the CEO of the Bertelsmann China Corporate Center.
Although one patronizing article stated she is “a middle-aged woman with a functional short haircut and a pleasant, engaging manner,” a much more relevant description would be “corporate senior vice president and board director” at Huawei. Chen has served as a spokesperson for the company to U.S. media amidst accusations from the U.S. Congress that Huawei’s ambition to expand to the American market is really a front for People’s Liberation Army spying operations.
Tian is the moderator and host for prime-time talk show Dialogue on CCTV news, known by China-watchers for its acerbic host Yang Rui. Tian has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has served as a Washington, D.C. correspondent.
Another major media figure, Yang is the deputy editor-in-chief and anchor of China Business News, a daily business media source she helped found. She holds a Ph.D from Fudan University, and has published in academic journals in addition to her journalism work.