Emmanuel Macron

Chinese social media agog over French presidential favourite Emmanuel Macron’s marriage to older woman

Wife of favourite to become France’s youngest president is nearly 25 years his senior, fascinating internet users on the mainland

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 April, 2017, 10:21am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 August, 2017, 5:31pm

Emmanuel Macron is tipped to become the youngest president of France, but social media in China is more abuzz over his marriage to a woman nearly 25 years his senior.

Macron, 39, won the most votes in the first round of the French presidential poll on Sunday.

He will face Marine Le Pen in the run-off in May and is the clear favourite to win.

But internet users in China have largely been focused on the potential first lady of France, Macron’s 64-year-old wife Brigitte.

The two met when Macron was just 15-years-old while Brigitte was a married mother with children and the boy’s drama teacher at school. Two years after they met, Macron declared he would one day marry her. They later began a relationship and were wed in 2007.

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Articles about Macron’s marriage were widely shared on the social media platform WeChat in China, with one headlined, “Macron: his journey to love is more exiting than his bid for presidency”.

Chinese media also highlighted that Macron became a step grandfather at the age of 30.

For Chinese online users, the near 25-year age difference between the couple has prompted widespread comparisons to the television character Qi Tongwei, the villain in China’s hit anti-corruption drama In the Name of People.

Qi is known in the series for taking morally ambiguous steps to further his career and ended up putting aside love to marry the daughter of a high-ranking official, who is ten years his senior.

“The European Qi Tongwei,” said one highly liked comment on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

Other were amazed by the French couple’s age gap, with one saying: “An older man and younger women is ordinary … but in this case, [Brigitte] could even be his mum.”

Another person joked: “Suddenly I’m relieved, my boyfriend just hasn’t been born yet”.

One person on Weibo said it was often the case in Chinese culture that successful mean only wanted to marry women who were much younger than them.

But some rushed to support the couple, with one internet user referring to the age gap between Canto-pop star Aaron Kwok, 51, and his new bride Moka Fang, 29.

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“Age has no distance. Please don’t maliciously speculate about others,” one commenter said.

Another added: “If a marriage is happy, then age doesn’t matter.”

Others said the couple’s relationship typified France’s reputation for romance and love.

“I can only say this Frenchman is very romantic,” one person wrote.

Another commented: “If this couple was in China they might draw many cruel jokes, but for the romantic and emotional French, this is a rare story. Appreciate [Macron’s] love.”

Some on social media joked about Macron’s youthfulness, saying that in China his age meant he could only climb up the provincial Communist Party ladder, with no chance of the presidency. China’s current President Xi Jinping is 63.

If Macron, wins the run-off poll in May, he would edge out a nephew of Napoleon to become the youngest person to lead France.

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was 40 when he became head of state in 1848.