Li Heng signs a memoir about her father Hu Yaobang published in 2005. (Internet photo)
Li Heng, the daughter of late Chinese Communist Party general secretary Hu Yaobang, has been in the spotlight recently after she was suspected of being involved with GSK China's bribery scandal — the company has denied that she worked for them as a PR officer. Li has been keeping a low profile but does not hide the fact her father was the influential leader who was sacked by Deng Xiaoping for his liberal leanings.
Born in Nanchong, Sichuan province in 1952, Li was given the nickname Man Mei (satisfied little sister) by her grandmother, who declared herself happy after after having lived to see her grandsons and granddaughter.
Unusually, she did not take on her father's family name because her parents, wanting to promote gender equality, decided to give their sons their father's surname Hu and their daughter her mother's surname Li, according to Guangzhou's Southern People Weekly.
When she was 16, Li was assigned to be a worker at a paper mill in Beijing. After she had worked there for about a year, she had seen many of her coworkers join the army and wanted to follow suit. Li asked her father's friend in the army to give her a position.
In her memoir, Li said she did not care about her rank or where she would serve. She served at the state-run Bogezhuang farm for a couple of years but found her fellow soldiers all received recommendations and went to college. Upset, Li wrote to her father, asking him to help her secure a college place through his connections.
Hu refused and said he did not approve of her decision to join the army through the connections of another and without informing him. He told that if she wished to go to college, she should do so through her own hard work and effort. Li recalls that she could not understand her father's decision and tore his letter into pieces. Even without his help, she managed to attend Peking University Health Science Center.
Li worked for a medical journal after graduation and became a deputy secretary general of the Chinese Medical Association. She joined the Beijing Foreign Enterprise Service Group later and was elected a director of the association and Chinese medical foundation.
She married Liu Xiaojiang, a political commissioner in the PLA.
Li was recruited by a foreign-funded medical company (said to be GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) China) in 1994. "I met my first boss when I was dealing with three things simultaneously and he though I was a very efficient person. My boss's boss thinks I am a perfectionist," said Li. She loves working and often worked 14 to 16 hours a day and at weekends.
Li says she always thought job was her life until others gave her the idea that people should work for a better life. Li rearranged her schedule and took up gardening and developing other hobbies.
Despite being a workaholic, she is known for her friendly nature and for being a good listener who listens to her subordinates' suggestions, and takes them out for lunch and a chat. She rarely talks about her family, however. "I don't think there is anything there to show off or to hide. I deliberately disciplined myself to do my job well and be a better person because of my family. My parents taught me to be an honest and decent person."