Who is Chinese president Xi Jinping’s daughter?
She’s the only child of the world’s second most powerful leader – but unlike Ivanka Trump or Malia and Sasha Obama, few people even know Xi Mingze’s name.
Aside from a few basic biographical details, very little is known about the cherished daughter of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his second wife, famous folk singer Peng Liyuan.
The 27-year-old was born on June 27, 1992, and studied French at her high school, Hangzhou Foreign Languages School.
According to the China Times, she was nicknamed “Xiao Muzi” by her grandfather, Communist revolutionary and former state official Xi Zhongxun, “designating her as an innocent and decent person who is useful to society”.
She is “reputed to be a low-key and easygoing girl, who counts reading and fashion among her hobbies”, according to the brief 2012 profile in the Taiwanese newspaper.
In 2008, in the wake of the devastating Sichuan earthquake, the then 16-year-old asked her school for a leave of absence to spend a week assisting in disaster relief efforts and care for injured survivors, her mother told local media at the time.
Asked whether she was worried about her daughter’s safety, Ms Peng said: “As the earthquake claimed so many lives and triggered such a big disaster, my daughter should go to the frontline to help. During seven days as a volunteer, she worked hard and never complained. She learned a lot and also made lots of local friends. She said people in Sichuan are nice, strong and kind.”
Said to be surrounded 24 hours a day by Chinese bodyguards, Ms Xi’s privacy is jealously guarded by her father.
Like Vladimir Putin with his “secret” daughters, the Chinese leader fiercely protects Ms Xi from the prying eyes of the outside world – often using the Communist dictatorship’s vast internet censorship powers.
She travelled to the US in 2010 to study at Harvard University in Massachusetts under a pseudonym, but it wasn’t until 2012 that many people had even heard of her.
The Washington Post first reported in May that year that Ms Xi was an undergraduate at the prestigious Ivy League school, but included few other details save that her presence was “low-key” and that “fellow students describe (her as studious and discreet”.
The story noted that Ms Xi had attended a discussion about the “political tumult convulsing China’s ruling Communist Party”, where the “demure female undergraduate with a direct stake in the outcome” sat “listening intently from the top row of the lecture hall”.
Later that year, a journalist from the UK’s Mail on Sunday managed to track down a few people who knew her, and published a brief story accompanied by a photo of Ms Xi that had appeared on Facebook.
“She is a bookworm, very quiet and studious,” one of her acquaintances, a Chinese writer, told newspaper.
She was said to be devoted to her studies, shunning the party lifestyle of another prominent Chinese Harvard student, Bo Guagua, the son of Chinese politician Bo Xilai.
The story contained few juicy details, but was a considered a bombshell on Chinese social media. A photograph of the article was shared widely on Weibo, managing to escape the censors for some time due to being an image rather than text.
The University of Hong Kong’s monitoring service, Weiboscope, reported that the image was eventually banned, as were subsequent re-posts of the story – likely due to awkward questions about how Mr Xi, on an official salary of around $US13,000, could afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars to send his daughter to one of the world’s most expensive universities.
Ms Xi, who studied psychology and English, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2014 and returned to Beijing.
According to Asahi Shimbun correspondent Kenji Minemura, who attended her commencement ceremony, during her time at Harvard her true identity was known only to a handful – “less than ten” – of faculty and close friends.
In 2015 she made her first public appearance alongside her parents since her father took power in 2013, at the remote village of Yanan in Liangjiahe, Shaanxi province, to offer Lunar New Year greetings to the locals, First Post reported.
Yanan is where Mr Xi began his political career in the ‘70s after being sent there for a six-year “re-education” stint, and is dubbed the “the cradle of the red revolution”, according to the outlet.
Since then she has largely kept a low profile – and as a member of the youngest generation of the so-called “red nobility” descended from the Community Revolution’s leaders, it’s still not clear whether she one day will enter public life.