Mei Lifen in 2019
President of the Chinese Federation
1 October 2016
Premier: Zheng Lingxin
Preceded by: Xiong Junhui
9 October 2008 - 6 October 2012
President: Xiong Junhui
Preceded by: Sun Jianhong
Succeeded by: Tan Bao
1 September 2002 - 9 October 2008
Born: 19 February 1970 (age 50)
Shenzen, Guangdong, China
Political party: Kuomintang
Alma mater: Nanjing University (BA)
University of Michigan (LLM)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Mei.
Mei Lifen (Chinese name: 梅莉芬, born 19 February 1970) is a Chinese politician who is the current President of the Chinese Federation. She is the first woman since Song Qingling to hold the office, and the first female president to have been directly and popularly elected. Before her election as president, she served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and was a member of the National Assembly.
Mei was born in Shenzen. She studied economics and political science at Nanjing University before acquiring a Masters of Law from the University of Michigan. After finishing her education, she became a lawyer and business consultant specializing in environmental law. Mei joined the Kuomintang in 1994 and in 2002, she was elected to the National Assembly. In 2008, she was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs by President Xiong Junhui. During her time in office, she worked to strengthen relations with Korea, Japan, and India. In 2015, Mei announced her candidacy in the 2016 presidential election, winning the Kuomintang's primary in February. In the first round of the general election, Mei came in first place, with National Republican Party candidate Jack Chen coming in second place. The two candidates faced off in a run-off, which Mei won with 56.7% of the vote.
As president, Mei has focused on improving internal infrastructure and overall quality of life, and increasing China's prominence in international politics. Mei has championed measures to control pollution, shift towards renewable energy, tackle government corruption, and promote the construction of new mass transit lines to further connect China. In terms of foreign policy, Mei's tenure has been marked by a shift to expand China's influence through investments across Africa and Eurasia, and a general trend towards further involvement in global affairs.
As part of her 2028 Promise campaign, Mei has stated her intentions to transform China into a developed high-income economy by 2028, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Federation's establishment. She has emphasized the central role of China's state-owned enterprises while also encouraging the growth of the private sector, drawing inspiration from the economic models of the Nordic countries and the Asian Tiger economies. Mei has also championed the expansion of public housing, public health care, the introduction of public child care, and the loosening of certain financial regulations to attract foreign investments.
On 20 June 2017, Mei announced plans to invest the equivalent of 2 trillion dollars over a five-year period to overhaul China's infrastructure, with a special focus on its rail and public transportation systems. Since Mei took office, China's high-speed rail network has increased in total length from 12,000km to 32,000km, becoming the largest high-speed rail network in the world. Currently, the system extends to 32 of China's 35 subdivisions, with plans to expand it to all 35 subdivisions by 2028.
Shortly after taking office, Mei announced the Green Dream (绿梦, Lǜ Mèng) campaign. The stated goals of the campaign were to cut China's carbon emissions in half by 2050, with the long-term goal of becoming carbon neutral by the end of the century. As part of the program, the government announced plans to spend the equivalent of 10 trillion dollars over the next 40 years to construct new hydroelectric, wind, solar, and nuclear power stations across China with the intention of eventually fully phasing out coal, oil, and natural gas energy generation. The plan also included new regulations for polluting industries such as refineries and mills. As of 2019, the plan has been credited with increasing the proportion of electricity generated by clean energy plants from 22% to 30%, and with gradually improving the air quality in certain major cities such as Nanjing and Shenzhou.
After the United States left the Paris Climate Agreement on 1 June 2017, Mei announced that her government would "double its efforts" to invest in green technology and clean energy in the developing world, stating that "If the United States cannot lead the drive to fight climate change, then China must assume the mantle."
Mei identifies herself as a Chinese nationalist, and has emphasized that China must take a greater role in global affairs. Under Mei, China has strengthened diplomatic relations with Korea, India, the European Union, and the ASEAN countries, while simultaneously taking a more assertive stance towards Japan, Russia, and the United States. Relations with the United States in particular soured after 2017 with the inauguration of Donald Trump, and in a 2018 press conference, Mei declared that the United States "was no longer fit to lead the free world."
On 2 February 2017, Mei announced the New Silk Road Initiative (NSR), an ambitious plan to invest in the infrastructures of over 70 different countries in Africa, Europe and Asia, with the stated goal of promoting global interconnectivity and strengthening the economies of the countries involved. Some observers see this plan as an attempt to further cement China's status as an emerging superpower by creating a new trade network with China at its center. Currently, the plan is set to be completed by 2048, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of China's democratization.
Qian Zhelan, Mei Lifen's former secretary, described her as being "empathetic, sharp, pragmatic, and a hard worker." A 2017 profile published in Shèxiàn magazine described Mei as "a warm - if imposing presence who can easily take command of a room" and "the type of person who never dances around how she truly feels about something."
Mei is known to love animated films such as The Lion King, Castle in the Sky, and Your Name. Mei is also an avid chess player, and has developed a reputation for challenging other world leaders to matches during official state visits. She also likes table tennis, swimming, and horseback riding.
Mei is a polyglot, fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English, and conversational in Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Hindi.
Family and religious background
Mei is often very private when it comes to her family life, and has repeatedly refused to answer questions concerning her personal relationships. It is known that Mei is unmarried and childless.
Mei was raised by a Buddhist family, but gradually became irreligious during her time in higher education. In a 2016 interview, Mei identified herself as an atheist and secular humanist.
Mei owns two cats, Mufasa and Totoro, who live with her in the Presidential Palace.