Women making waves

Women making waves

Chinese women are standing out in business, sports and the media


(From left) Amy Chua, Wendi Deng, Wu Yajun, Li Na, Brigitte Lin
(From left) Amy Chua, Wendi Deng, Wu Yajun, Li Na, Brigitte Lin
Not so long ago, many Chinese women thought it natural to become housekeepers who bound their feet and spoke in hushed tones. But modern women have embraced a whole new image: they are decisive, independent, charismatic. Time to meet the modern Chinese tigresses:

Amy Chua, the tiger mother

The high-profile academic shocked the world with her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, in which she portrays the struggles of a desperate mother who seeks to bring up her daughters with military discipline. Her book became a worldwide bestseller and sparked great controversy.

Chua, a mother of two, is a professor at Yale Law School. She is a natural high achiever and workaholic who constantly pushes herself to the limits. "The truth is, I'm not good at enjoying life," she admits in her memoir.

Wendi Deng, the tiger wife

She is elegant and beautiful, but Deng can turn fierce if need be. You could get a glimpse of that during a recent inquiry in Britain's House of Commons, where her husband, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, was a witness. Deng sat behind her husband, and when a protester tried to throw a plate of shaving foam at him, she jumped up and punched the attacker. Media dubbed her the "Tiger Wife". Her amazing reflexes might have originated from her training as a volleyball player.

The businesswoman assists her husband in investments in China. She met Murdoch in Hong Kong in 1997 when he was still married to his second wife. They tied the knot in 1999 right after Murdoch got his divorce. At 31, Deng is 37 years younger than her husband.

Wu Yajun, the self-made billionaire

Real estate tycoon Wu Yajun can talk about what it takes to succeed in business. Although she keeps a low profile, Wu recently surpassed Yang Huiyan as the richest woman in China with an estimated wealth of 70 billion yuan (HK$84.8 billion), according to Forbes magazine.

Wu does it with a natural flair for business and a detail-oriented personality. Just 43, she is general director of Longhu Real Estate Development and has 2,000 employees. Wu makes important decisions every day and inevitably makes mistakes, but it is her resilience in the face of setbacks that has ensured her success.

Li Na, the tennis star

After Li won the French Open earlier this year, becoming the first Asian national to win a Grand Slam in singles, she became an instant role model for Chinese athletes. She is the world's second-highest-earning sportswoman behind Maria Sharapova, earning US$42 million from prize money and endorsements.

Yet Li's career as a tennis player has not been without hiccups. She left the national team in 2002 to study journalism at university, but she soon realised her true passion and returned to the court. Her success has helped pressure Beijing to review its supervision of the nation's sports system.

Brigitte Lin, the star actress

Blessed with stunning beauty and a formidable screen presence, Lin has been a movie star since 1972, when she made her debut in Chuang Wai (Outside the Window). She has since starred in more than 100 movies in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Lin recently published her memoir, Inside and Outside the Window: The Dramatic Life of Lin Ching-hsia.

"Please don't call me a beauty, because being one is tiring," she says in the book.

Perhaps she will not object to being called a modern Chinese heroine. She certainly has the confidence.



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