'Wife Diplomacy': The women behind Chinese leadership

Source:Globaltimes.cn Published: 2014-5-27 17:27:03

The wives of top Chinese leaders are receiving greater attention in recent years, assuming a greater diplomatic role than ever before in the nation's history.

While women were seldom present at diplomatic events during China's early years, officials soon began to recognize the importance of spouses in diplomacy.

During a meeting on December 20, 1960, foreign minister Chen Yi stressed the necessity of including spouses in diplomatic occasions, according to people.com.cn. Since then, the wives of Chinese leaders have been playing an increasingly important role in Chinese diplomacy.

Peng Liyuan, the singer-wife of current President Xi Jinping, and more recently academic Cheng Hong, wife of Premier Li Keqiang, are ushering in a new wave of what media has dubbed "wife diplomacy."   

Zhou Enlai, then Chinese premier and foreign minister, meets with members of the Women's International Democratic Federation with his wife Deng Yingchao (first from right) in Beijing in 1956. Photo: people.com.cn


Deng Yingchao (right, wife of Chinese former premier Zhou Enlai), Wang Guangmei (second from left, wife of Chinese president Liu Shaoqi), and Zhang Qian (left, wife of Chen Yi, Chinese former vice premier and foreign minister) pose for a photo with Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, wife of Norodom Sihanouk, former King of Cambodia, in 1962. Photo: people.com.cn


Deng Yingchao (right) toasts with Hartini Sukarno, wife of former Indonesian president Sukarno, in September 1962. Photo: people.com.cn


Former Chinese leader Mao Zedong and wife Jiang Qing (second from left) are joined by Wang Guangmei (third from left), wife of Liu Shaoqi, in meeting with Hartini Sukarno in 1962. Photo: ifeng.com


Former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai walks with Zhang Qian, wife of Chen Yi, the former Chinese vice premier and foreign minister, in the Great Hall of the People in 1963. The People's Republic of China saw few women in diplomatic occasions during its early years. However, the foreign minister began including his wife in diplomatic work, a move supported by Zhou and Zhang. Photo: people.com.cn


Ex-president Liu Shaoqi (third from left) and his wife Wang Guangmei (fifth from left) visit a botanical garden in Indonesia in 1963. From April 12 to May 16, 1963, Liu and Wang visited four countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodia. The trip marked the first time a Chinese president conducted an official state visit in the company of his wife. Photo: ifeng.com


Liu Shaoqi and wife Wang Guangmei wave with Vietnamese president Ho Chi Minh (first from right) during a motorcade in Vietnam in 1963. Photo: people.com.cn


Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (first from right) and wife Zhuo Lin (second from left) meet with Japanese Emperor Hirohito and his wife Princess Nagako at the Emperor's Palace in Tokyo on October 23, 1978. Photo: people.com.cn


Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping delivers a speech during a visit to the US with wife Zhuo Lin (first from left) on January 29, 1979. Photo: people.com.cn


Then vice premier Zhu Rongji and wife Lao An (first from right, front) are welcomed at the airport of Tanzania. Zhu and Lao visited Tanzania and Botswana in July of 1995. Photo: people.com.cn


Former premier Zhu Rongji and his wife Lao An take a photo with ex-US president Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton during their visit to the US on April 8, 1999. Photo: people.com.cn


Former premier Li Peng (second from left) and his wife Zhu Lin (first from left) visit Palestine where they were welcomed by former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on November 27, 1999. Photo: people.com.cn


Wang Yeping, wife of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, receives a bouquet of flowers from a child during their state visit to Malta on July 23, 2001. Photo: ifeng.com


Former president Jiang Zemin (first from left) and his wife Wang Yeping (third from left) meet then US president George W. Bush and his wife at their ranch in Crawford, Texas on October 25, 2002. Photo: ifeng.com


Former Chinese president Hu Jintao and his wife Liu Yongqing attend a welcoming ceremony hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Cavalry Inspection Court in London, UK on November 8, 2005. Photo: Xinhua


Former Chinese president Hu Jintao and madam Hu (middle) walk with foreign dignitaries in a banquet hall during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 8, 2008. Photo: people.com.cn


Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan wave before boarding a flight at the end of their state visit to Tanzania on March 25, 2013. Photo: ifeng.com


Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan names a new strain of tulip the "Cathay" at Keukenhof in Lisse, the Netherlands on March 23, 2014 at the invitation of Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. Chinese President Xi Jinping (back, third from left) accompanied his wife at the tulip exhibition during their visit to the Netherlands. Photo: Xinhua


Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, accompanied by his wife Cheng Hong, arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 4 for his eight-day visit in Africa. Photo: Xinhua


Posted in: Diplomacy

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