China's Leadership May Include First Woman

Ng Han Guan/AP Photo

For the first time in China's modern history, there are hints that a woman has come very close to reaching the highest levels of government.

China today gave its strongest indication yet on who will lead the country for the next decade and for the first time in the history of the communist regime the leadership may include a woman.

At the close of the 18 th National Party Congress the state run news agency, Xinhua, released a list of 10 names. It is widely expected that the seven to nine members who will make up the all-powerful Standing Committee are on the list.

As expected Vice President Xi Jinping and Le Keqiang, a protégé of the departing leader Hu Jintao, were at the top of the list. But also included is Liu Yandong, a woman thought to be in her 60s from Jiangsu province.

Liu is the epitome of Communist Party royalty, a princess among the many "princelings." But in China, the policies and personal details of politicians are a state secret. Very few in this country of over 1.3 billion know more than scant biographical details such as education and former political posts. Still, the appointment of a woman to top party leadership would be a notable milestone in the government's 91-year-old history.

Liu was educated at Tsinghua University, outgoing President Hu Jintao's alma mater. According to the BBC she serves as his deputy in the party's youth league and later earned a masters degree in sociology from Renmin University of China.

The BBC also notes that according to a leaked U.S. cable, Liu's husband of more than 40 years, Yang Yuanxing, "once told diplomats that his wife speaks good English and is keen on photography."

Aside from these scant details, little is known about her.

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