Game, set and match as women take control
IT has not been traditional for Communist Party leaders to reveal their favourite sports. But after 16 years of reform, it may be time for a change.
Tennis is fast becoming the most popular sport among political leaders. Former National People's Congress chairman Wan Li and the vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Li Ruihuan are known to be tennis fans - but according to the China News Service (CNS), many female cadres are learning how to swing their racquets nowadays too.
To prove tennis was no longer a male preserve, the agency yesterday organised a 'soft tennis' competition at the Beijing Wenjin Country Club.
According to CNS, the most senior competitor was Chen Muhua, the vice-chairman of the National People's Congress. Others included Foreign Trade Minister Wu Yi, Chemical Industry Minister Gu Xiulian and General Nie Li, the daughter of Marshal Nie Rongzhen.
Two vice-directors of the United Front Department, Wan Shaofen and Liu Yandong, also took part. Perhaps not to be outdone, the State Science and Technology Commission sent two high-fliers - second daughter of Deng Xiaoping, Deng Nan, and vice-director, Zhu Lilan.
So, who won? Well, in a country like China where seniority is emphasised, it was only natural that 74-year-old Ms Chen should defeat vice-chairman of the All-China Women's Federation, Wang Qicao - even though Ms Wang was widely regarded as the better player.
It should also not be too surprising that Ms Deng - whose father is still the most powerful man in China - should have beaten colleague Ms Zhu in a doubles match with partner Ms Liu.
With Beijing soon to play host to the United Nations' World Conference on Women in September, Beijing may be anxious to give female ministers a more human face.