FOREIGN POLICY
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Li Keqiang

Meet Cheng Hong, the English literature professor, translator ... and wife of China’s Premier Li Keqiang

The low-profile, scholarly Cheng is travelling with the premier on his first official visit to Canada

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 9:23am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 10:29am

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang began his first official visit to Canada on Wednesday, and is travelling with his wife Cheng Hong.

While President Xi Jinping’s wife Peng Liyuan is a military singer known for her fashion, Cheng is a low-profile scholar with a doctorate in literature and is a professor at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing.

Family

Cheng was born in Zhengzhou, Henan province, in 1957. Cheng Jinrui, Cheng’s father, rose to be a senior official in the Communist Youth League.

Cheng was accepted into the PLA University of Foreign Languages in 1977, the first year the national entrance examinations were reinstated.

She met Li Keqiang while doing an advanced degree at Peking University. They married in 1983 and have one daughter.

Profession

Cheng is an English professor specialising in naturalism in American Literature. She has translated many books in the field, including Wake-Robin, The Singing Wilderness, and The Outermost House.

In the abstract of Cheng’s book Tranquility Is Beyond Price, published in Shanghai in 2009, Cheng wrote that she developed her interest in American and British writing on nature and the environment when she was a visiting scholar at Brown University in the United States.

The university website lists Cheng as one of its “renowned scholars” and says she is a member of the institute’s academic committee.

Style

Cheng is often described as a low-profile person and reportedly has no business interests.

One professor at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing told the South China Morning Post in 2012 that university officials put Cheng forward to become a dean at the college, but she rejected the role.

“Cheng is a dedicated scholar who prefers to concentrate on her work. She treats others with sincerity and courtesy,” the professor, who also teaches English literature in the department, said.