Christine Chow Ma, First Lady of Taiwan
Christine Chow Ma or Chow Mei-ching (traditional Chinese: 周美青; Tongyong Pinyin: Jhou Měicing; Hanyu Pinyin: Zhōu Měiqīng; Wade-Giles: Chou Mei-ching; born November 30, 1952, in Hong Kong with family roots in Nanjing, Jiangsu) is the wife of Ma Ying-Jeou, the current President of the Republic of China (commonly known as Taiwan). Madam Ma is now the First Lady of the Republic of China.
Chow was born in Hong Kong in 1952. She graduated from Taipei First Girls’ High School and received her bachelor degree from National Chengchi University and LL.M. degree from New York University Law School.
Chow was a high-school classmate of Ma Ying-jeou’s sister. Chow and Ma married in New York. She worked as a research assistant, an assistant librarian, and even as maître d’hôtel at a Chinese restaurant to support her husband through Harvard Law School. They have two daughters, Lesley (Ma Wei-chung, 馬唯中) and Kelly (Ma Yuan-chung, 馬元中). Lesley (Ma Wei-chung, 馬唯中) was born in 1981 in New York) when Ma was attending Harvard; she completed her undergraduate work at Harvard University and is currently a graduate student at New York University. Younger daughter Kelly (Ma Yuan-chung, 馬元中), was born in Taiwan and is currently pursuing her undergraduate studies at Brown University in Rhode Island. Both Lesley and Kelly currently reside in the U.S.
Mrs. Ma was employed at the Mega International Commercial Bank in Taiwan in its legal department. After Ma Ying-jeou won the 2008 presidential election, she had initially said that she will continue her professional work. At the time, the only change she has made to her lifestyle was taking a chauffeured ride to work instead of public transportation.
In a change of course, President Ma, in a 15 July 2008 CNN interview, stated that his wife will resign her post at the bank to avoid any conflicts of interest or arouse suspicions during his presidency. Her resignation marked a major change for the career-oriented First Lady.
Chow is presented as a stark contrast from her predecessor, Chen Shui-bian’s first lady, Wu Shu-chen; Chow is known for staying out of the political limelight and has rarely joined officials’ wives at social or official functions in the past. Chow has stated that she will not fulfill “traditional” first lady responsibilities (no former first ladies held an active occupation); she has, however, said that she will fill in on meeting and greeting dignitaries if she has the time.
Chow is described as down-to-earth and assertive while sometimes lacking social and political tact. She once answered a reporter’s question regarding her husband’s shortcomings saying, “Whatever weak points husbands have, he has them all.”