China's mysterious leader, Hua Kuo-feng, is using an alias and has an even more mysterious wife whose name just appeared for the first time in the official Chinese press, a pro-Peking magazine here has reported.
The article in the Chinese-language magazine Cheng Ming gives the most detailed, albeit unconfirmed, account to date of the personal life of the man who leads the world's most populous nation. It said Hua's real name is Su Chu and that his four children all use the surname Su so few people know they are related to the chairman of the Communist Party and state premier.
The author, who said he met Hua's family years ago in Junan Province, identified the chairman's wife as Han Chih-chun, 47. Like most married chinese woman, she uses her maiden name. She is "tall and strong with heavy eyebrows and big eyes like Hua Kuo-feng," wrote the author, who used the name Hung Fei.
He said Hua's wife is a native of Shansi Province like her husband and works as chief of the political affairs department of the state-run Light Industrial Products Import and Export Corp. He identified her as the same woman whose name appeared in an list of 213 members of the Presidium of the fourth Chinese Women's National Congress last-month. It was the first time that name had appeared in the official Chinese press, according to records available here.
Chinese leaders are often reluctant to reveal details of their personal lives, but Hua's family and background remain almost a complete official blank. Other leaders like Vice Chairman Teng Hsiao-ping show up at official functions with their wives, but there had been no official acknowledgement so far that Hua, 57, even has a wife.
He may have chosen to keep his spouse in the background to avoid odious comparisons with Chiang Ching, the disgraced wife of his predecessor, the late chairman Mao Tse-tung. The mystery of Hua's parentage, which the Cheng Ming article does nothing to clear up, has allowed anti-communists propagandists in Taiwan to speculate with glee that he may be illegitimate or have other dark secrets in his past.
Many observers have speculated that Hua, for reasons of safety and patriotism, might have given himself a new name as many other Communist leaders did during revoluntionary days. Hua Kuo-Feng can be liberally translated as "China's vanguard."
The magazine article said Hua "choose the name for himself by picking three characters out of the nine characters of Chung Hua Kang Jih Chiu Kuo Hsien Feng Tui (the Chinese Vanguard Troop to Resist Japan and Save the Country), and anti-Japanese organization he joined when he was young. This showed his devotion to the Chinese revolution."
The article described briefly three of what if said were Hua's four children, including his youngest daughter Hsiao Li who remains the only Hua relative ever to be named in the official press.
It said one of Hua's sons flunked his college entrance examination in late 1978.
"Hua was asked if an exception should be made in his sons's case," the article said. "Hua said absolutely not. He would rather his son prepared for the next exam by studying harder."
Hua's eldest son, the article said, went to work in the countryside after graduating from high school in Hunan. His father was provincial leader then and was expected to set an example for other parents. This son later joined the army, the article said.
The daughter, Hsiao Li, graduated from middle school in Peking and also went to the countryside, as was reported in an official press account last year of Hua's visit to a parent's meeting at her school. The girl "looks like her father, tall, and speaks Hunan dialect . . . She was praised by the local farmers for her positive attitude and hard work and in 1977 was recommended to study at the Peking Industrial College," the article said. This made her one of the last students to enter the universities before the entrance examination was reinstituted.
"She likes sports very much, and plays table tennis quite well," the article said.
The article did not describe Hua's fourth child. Recent refugees arriving here from China have reported a rumor, completely unconfirmed, that one of Hua's children was arrested and executed on Hua's orders for joining a criminal gang organized by the children of high officials during the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s.
Established organs of the Chinese languages press here known to have links to Peking have endorsed Cheng Ming's articles in the past, although there is no independent confirmation for the magazine's story. The author of the article said "a relative of mine worked for eight years in Hunan under Hua's leadership. I had met Hua and his wife and am quite familiar with his family."
The article describes how Hua first discovered the present Hunan provincial leader, Mao Chih-yung, when he was a young accountant, and how Hua and his wife were always considered to be approachable people in Hunan.Both wore simple clothes and walked or bicycled to work.
For some time after they moved to Peking, Han Chih-chun still used a bicycle to get to work, even though her husband had become a vice premier the article said.