Liu Yongqing, First Lady of China
Liu Yongqing (simplified Chinese: 刘永清; traditional Chinese: 劉永清; pinyin: Liú Yǒngqīng) is the wife of Hu Jintao, the current General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and President of the People’s Republic of China. Liu Yongqing has, as is the Chinese custom, retained her maiden name. Traditionally, Liu Yongqing’s role would be primarily domestic but this is fast changing as Chinese leaders travel abroad more. Liu often accompanies her husband on his official trips to foreign countries and has made personal appearances at charities and cultural institutions all over the world.
Liu Yonqing was born in 1940. She met her husband at Tsinghua University, in Beijing. Later she went on to work for Beijing city planning committee.
As with her husband, Liu’s life and background are not widely known among observers abroad. She received virtually no public attention before Hu Jintao’s Presidency. Hu himself has preferred to stay out of the public eye and has tended to avoid publicity during his political career.
The wives of high ranking Chinese political leaders are encouraged to say little or nothing to the public as one wrong word can ruin their husband’s career in this highly competitive and complicated arena of political power plays. For this reason, China’s First Lady plays more the gracious host than the independent political figure as is customary, for instance, in the United States.
Hu Jintao and Liu Yongqing have two grown children – a son named Hu Haifeng and a daughter named Hu Haiqing, both of whom were educated at the Tsinghua University. Haifeng is a businessman. According to an old Wall Street Journal report, their daughter studied and lived in the United States for eight years. This report has never been confirmed. There have also been claims that she assumed a pseudonym during her stay in the United States and was denied a green card. Haiqing was married in 2003 to Mao Daolin at the age of 33.