Fujian party secretary Sun Chunlan , one of China's few senior women cadres, said yesterday she was "full of confidence" for women's future in top-level politics.
Sun, who is leading a 41-member provincial delegation that includes 14 women, said women delegates showed "high levels of competence in participating in politics".
The only woman among the current crop of provincial party chiefs, Sun just smiled when asked about her own political future at a Fujian delegation group discussion that she was chairing.
She said "it depends on the arrangement of the congress", when asked about the possibility of female State Councillor Liu Yandong gaining promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee.
Only a handful of women occupy senior positions. Besides Liu and Sun they include Supervision Minister Ma Wen , Justice Minister Wu Aiying , National People's Congress Standing Committee vice-chairwoman Chen Zhili , and Shen Yueyue , deputy head of the party Central Committee's organisation department.
During a break, Sun, 62, was the most popular figure to be photographed with. Nearly all delegates lined up to have pictures taken with her.
The Fujian delegation is one of only four provincial delegations in which more than a third of delegates are female. The others are Beijing, Zhejiang and Shanghai.
Thirteen members of the party Central Committee are women - just 6 per cent of its total membership.
Sun is the third female provincial party secretary since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, following Wan Shaofen, who was appointed Jiangxi's party boss in 1985, and Lu Yulan in Hebei in 1977.
Before moving to Fujian in 2009, Sun had been deputy chief of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.
Sun began working at the Anshan Clock and Watch Factory in Liaoning in 1974 after graduating from a vocational school. After a spell in Anshan's textiles administration, Sun spent 14 years as a senior official in a textile company in Anshan. She was later appointed head of the city's women's federation, and then head of the province's women's federation and trade union.