BEIJING May 5 China's state media have
published for the first time the photograph and resume of
Premier Li Keqiang's wife, a professor of English who has
translated several books on American literature.
State news agency Xinhua said on Sunday that Li was married
to Cheng Hong, who is aged 56 or 57. The couple, who left on
Sunday for an official tour of Africa, have one daughter and met
at the elite Peking University, Xinhua said.
The move to put Cheng on public display could reflect a new
effort by China to cultivate soft power and burnish its image on
the international stage.
Cheng has taught in the foreign languages department of the
Capital University of Economics and Business for more than 30
years, Xinhua said. She specialised in English teaching and
research and was responsible for a research project on "natural
literature and eco-criticism".
Cheng's unveiling is unusual, as Chinese leaders generally
keep secret the details of their personal lives.
The wife of former Premier Wen Jiabao never traveled with
him, though the wives of former premiers Li Peng and Zhu Rongji
accompanied them on trips, the Beijing News reported on Monday,
citing a former foreign ministry official.
Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife, Peng Liyuan, has
decisively broken the mold of Chinese first wives, who have kept
an intentionally low profile since the 1970s.
Peng, a famous singer, has been photographed playing steel
drums in Trinidad, strolling hand-in-hand with a coffee farmer's
daughter in Costa Rica and snapping pictures with her iPhone in
the shadow of Mayan ruins in Mexico.
Chinese leaders' wives have usually kept a low profile
because of the experience of Jiang Qing, the widow of the
founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong.
Jiang was the leader of the "Gang of Four" that wielded
supreme power during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. She was
given a suspended death sentence in 1981 for the deaths of tens
of thousands during that period of chaos.
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee Additional reporting by Li Hui;
Editing by Clarence Fernandez)