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Glamorous yet unseen: Wen Jiabao's wife Zhang Beili

  • Staff Reporter
  • 2012-05-10
  • 08:34 (GMT+8)
Zhang Beili is seldom pictured with her husband. (Internet photo)

Zhang Beili is seldom pictured with her husband. (Internet photo)

Wen Jiabao's wife Zhang Beili is the executive vice president of the Chinese Gems and Jewelry Trade Association, and president and CEO of Beijing Diamond Company.

Zhang was born in Lanzhou in the northwest province of Gansu in 1941 and graduated from the geology department of Lanzhou University. She met Wen when he was working in the provincial city of Jiuquan as part of Gansu's geology bureau.

Zhang is a big name in the jewelry market in China and is said to have the power to touch a stone and see it become gold. She is often described as a strong-willed woman and is never seen pictured with Wen on official occasion, leading some to speculate that they may have separated and even divorced. A US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks said that Wen at one point intended to divorce Zhang as he was "disgusted" by how she has used his name to extract huge commissions in the diamond trade.

The most widespread explanation of why Wen is never seen in public with his wife is that her image is too glamorous. She often wears luxurious jewels in public appearances, such as at the 2006 Beijing Jewelries Show when a merchant from Taiwan spotted her wearing jewelry worth 2 million yuan (US$317,000). This forms a stark contrast to Wen's image as an everyday man of the people, so to avoid being judged negatively alongside her, Wen prefers not to be seen with Zhang as much as possible.

After the premier brought his wife to meet the Hong Kong left-wing elder Wu Kangmin and his wife at the government complex at Zhongnanhai last year and the first official photo of Wen and Zhang pictured together in eight years was uploaded and shared on the internet, Zhang has become an internet star, with people keenly searching out her pictures online. Searches eventually resulted in a number of pictures of her coming to light, including photos of her riding bicycle to work as a younger woman and drinking tea with her friends at Huangshan (Yellow Mountain).

Zhang and Wen have a son, Wen Yunsong, and a daughter, Wen Ruchun.

References:

Wen Jiabao 溫家寶

Zhang Beili 張蓓莉

Diamond 戴夢得 

Wen Yunsong 溫雲松

Wen Ruchun 溫如春

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