Source: Global Times Published: 2019-7-22
Chinese netizens on Monday hailed the appointment of Hua Chunying as head of the Foreign Ministry's information department, with many praising the longtime ministry spokesperson's manners, past humorous responses and forceful tone during routine press conferences.
Hua takes over the post from Lu Kang, who will assume the position of director-general of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry.
As the country's fifth woman to be foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua is liked by many Chinese people who describe her handling of press conferences as "gentle but fierce and pithy."
Both domestic and foreign netizens have been impressed by her personal charm and professional performance. Many Chinese netizens call her "Sister Hua" on social media platforms.
At Monday's press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that the ministry always advocates gender equality.
"Both men and women can serve as spokespersons and head the information department of the ministry. We definitely mean it," Geng said.
Chinese netizens on Weibo sent their congratulations to Hua, with one writing "you are the best, my goddess!" Some thanked her for being an excellent role model for women, saying that her appointment shows that women can make it to China's political stage.
Many netizens recalled her debut as a spokesperson for the ministry in 2012. The short-haired and smiling Hua's first appearance immediately prompted public discussions with many netizens calling her "beautiful and graceful."
In August 2018, Hua refuted Japanese Sankei News' groundless charge that China "illegally prevented" the paper's journalist from attending a news event in Beijing. Hua's 1,100-word response was rare for a spokesperson and hailed by netizens as "tough and pithy."
Hua's humor also showed that a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry could also project soft power during press conferences.
During a press conference on October 25, 2018, Hua humorously commented that certain people in the US are sparing no efforts to win the "Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay," in response to reports that Chinese and Russian intelligence agencies had been bugging President Trump's iPhones. She even suggested US officials should use mobile phones produced by Huawei if they were worried about the security of their iPhones.
Her response was later described by BBC as "humorous."
The spokesperson is also popular among Japanese netizens. Search her name on Google in Japanese and a collection of her photos of her life experiences pops up.
Japanese internet users even nicknamed her bimajo, or magic beauty.
Photos of her laughing were widely circulated in 2017 among Chinese and Japanese netizens, when Hua mistook a reporter's question at a press conference.
A Japanese reporter asked Hua for her comments on giant panda Xiangxiang's public debut at a Tokyo zoo.
A Japanese reporter asked Hua, in English, for her comments on the giant panda Xiangxiang's public debut at a Tokyo Zoo. Hua misheard "Xiangxiang" for "Shanshan," the Chinese pronunciation of the name of former Japanese vice foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama.
When she was corrected, Hua burst into hearty laughter. News reports of the humorous incident led Japanese netizens to say Hua's smile was cute and that her laugh will further improve relations between China and Japan.
Hua is also an avid tennis player. When asked about her daily life, she said when she's not in the office she is usually at home or on the tennis court, according to China Sports Daily.
Hua, 49, was born in Huai'an, East China's Jiangsu Province. She started to work for the Foreign Ministry in 1993, and has served in the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, the ministry's department of European affairs and as deputy head of the information department. She is married and has one daughter.
Hua has not hosted a press conference since February. An article published on July 12 in the Study Times, a newspaper under the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, was attributed to Hua Chunying, suggesting she has been studying at the school.
Wang Yiwei, a professor at the Renmin University of China's School of International Relations, told the Global Times on Monday that Hua's soft and graceful manner while taking a tough stance on issues reflects China's modern diplomacy which entails making sincere friends and standing firm on matters of principle.
Humorous and personal expressions of Hua and other Foreign Ministry spokesperson at press conferences contrast sharply with the traditional diplomatic parlance seen in the past, and reflect the personal charms of China's new generation of diplomats who are confident, proactive and vigorous in their diplomacy, Wang said.
Hua's appointment comes after several Chinese diplomats, including the Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai, opened Twitter accounts allowing them to interact with foreign netizens.
Wang said that as Western countries diversify their ways to contain China's development, China is diversifying the manner in which it communicates with those countries to more effectively convey China's voice.
Wang Yiwei is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.