With 60 Minutes featuring the Barack and Michelle Obama love story in it’s Valentine’s Day coverage, it only seems appropriate to post this story on the love life of China’s leader-to-be I wrote for California News Service.
The particulars of the Obama courtship are pretty tame compared to the passionate romance of China’s political power couple, Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan. Xi, 54, the top-ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party is considered the potential successor of China’s president Hu Jintao. Xi gained his appointment last October at the 17th party Congress, when the public knew little about him. But his 46 year-old wife, Peng, was and is the number one folk singer in China. She has been a favorite with fans since her 1982, hit “At the Hope Land.” And ever since Xi’s appointment, Xi and Peng’s love story began appearing in Chinese media. Peng has said she once traveled 250 miles to bring Xi a handmade futon to keep him warm.
Americans may be accustomed to hearing about the private lives of their presidents and presidential candidates, but this is probably the first time since the days of Chairman Mao that the Chinese are learning so much about their top leader’s love life. More recent Chinese presidents, such as Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin tried to keep their wives out of the public spotlight and distance them from politics. The current president Hu’s wife only shows up on TV sometimes when there are diplomatic events. Of course Chairman Mao’s wife Jiang Qing, the key member of Gang of Four, was deeply into politics and became partially responsible for directing the tragedy of the Cultural Revolution.