Chen Xiaodan, now 23, was the belle of the ball at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris in 2006. (Internet Photo)
"Red princess" Chen Xiaodan, 23, has reportedly broken up with Bo Guagua, the son of the Chongqing CCP chief Bo Xilai, with whom she was seen laughing and flirting in a series of photos taken on holiday in Tibet last year which were widely posted online in February. The reposted photos of this largely unknown young woman has nonetheless only added to her air of mystery and desirability among Chinese netizens.
Chen, now studying at Harvard for an MBA, is the granddaughter of Chen Yun, one of China's top leaders until his death in 1995 and one of the "eight immortals" of the Communist leadership of the 1980s and 90s. Her father is Chen Yuan, the governor of the China Development Bank and one of China's most influential bankers.
Her background thus makes her one of the most eligible women in the country. Together with 17-year-old Jasmin Li — the granddaughter of Jia Qinglin, a member of the all-powerful nine-member Politburo Standing Committee — they are better known among Europe's elite as China's 'red princesses' for their high-profile appearances at blue-blooded Paris balls.
Chen has featured in photographs of debutante balls such as the Crillon Ball in Paris which have appeared on Twitter and Facebook as well as the usual Chinese social networking sites. In 2006, Chen was considered the most attractive young woman at the ball attended by beauties such as 20-year-old Princess Costanza of Italy and other European royals.
Wearing her Oscar de la Renta dresses, her stylish looks have been an inspiration to many young people in the new China, yet as news about these red princesses who mingle with the European and American glitterati is kept out of the state-run Chinese press, little is actually known in China about them.
Even the most resourceful of Hong Kong-based media have failed to get much information on them beyond their education background and family background, with most of them having studied abroad from a young age often under a pseudonym and they continue to live overseas. The media only know that Chen Xiaodan graduated from Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania and is now studying for an MBA at Harvard.