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China's Only Female Governor

When Song Xiuyan was elected governor of Qinghai in January, she became China’s second female governor since 1949, after Gu Xiulian, governor of Jiangsu Province in the 1980s.


Song was born in north China’s Tianjin Municipality, but at an early age moved to Qinghai Province with her family and has been working there for decades.


“As a governor, I am entrusted with heavy responsibilities toward the 5.3 million people of Qinghai. As a woman, parents are my top priority as the Chinese saying has it that, of the 100 benefactions, the first is to do one’s filial duty to one’s parents,” Song said.


She was talking at the ongoing Third Session of the10th National People's Congress.


How to handle their relationship with their in-laws is a headache for many wives, but not for Song. Since getting married, they have lived together. “Everyday when I get home, the first thing I do is cook. Once, my husband’s father gave me an apron as a gift. My mother-in-law criticized him, saying I might be offended. But he explained that he had noticed that I go straight to the kitchen after work, and he didn’t want me to spoil my clothes!”


“Of course I am very busy. But I use what time I have to be with my family.” Song believes the conflict between career and family shouldn’t stop women from taking political posts, “As long as you can find solutions, it can actually be an impetus.”


Women are playing a more important role in the country’s development. Currently, seven are serving in the top political leadership, with 16 ministers and vice ministers in the 29 organizations affiliated to the State Council.


Song said the female leader she most admired was Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, because “she not only has the courage and resolution of a political leader, but also the tender feelings of a woman.”


“I am not preoccupied with my image, but as governor I hope I am resolute, courageous and vigorous,” Song said, adding that she “tempers toughness with gentleness.”


“I wish all the attention I have received would be given to the beautiful Qinghai. Although I was born in Tianjin, Qinghai is my second home.”


(China.org.cn by Li Xiao, March 13, 2005)

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