BEIJING – Chinese artist Zhang Lanlan, a popular singer and television presenter who abruptly left her career in 2008 and had since disappeared from the limelight, has come back by surprise as the wife of one of the brothers of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Her husband, Xi Yuanping, the younger brother of the leader, made the relationship public in a letter in the local daily of Hong Kong’s neighboring city of Shenzhen, to put an end to years of speculation about the whereabouts of Zhang.
“Lanlan is a simple and sincere woman. She not only had a successful career, but is also a competent daughter-in-law, good wife and loving mother,” said the president’s brother, who does not usually appear in public.
Zhang, 34, started her artistic career at the age of 15 when she was recruited by a People’s Liberation Army choir, where she was given the nickname of “Miss Army,” and until 2008 she frequently appeared in television galas.
President Xi is also married to a famous Chinese singer, Peng Liyuan, who is also a member of the People’s Liberation Army.
After becoming the first lady Peng also left her artistic career, although she never disappeared from public life like her sister-in-law.
Zhang’s silence over the past six years gave rise to many rumors, such as those speaking of an affair with influential Chinese general Xu Caihou, once the second in charge of the military and currently on trial for corruption.
This rumor made the Chinese censorship board pass an internal order barring media from talking about “Miss Army” or publishing her photos.
The fact the identity of President Xi’s sister-in-law was not known until now shows the high level of secrecy surrounding the private lives of many leaders of the communist regime.
In fact, the letter by Xi’s brother was deleted a few hours after it was published in the online version of the Shenzhen newspaper, after the stir it caused.