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Premier Li Keqiang kicked off a week-long trip to Africa yesterday, with his wife accompanying him for the first time on a state visit since he took office last year.
Ahead of his departure, Li admitted to "growing pains" in China's relationship with Africa, but said Beijing would not pursue a colonial path as some countries had done.
Li's wife, Cheng Hong - a professor of English with a low-profile career in academia - will join the premier on his visit to Ethiopia, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya.
The wives of Chinese leaders have taken on a higher diplomatic profile under the current leadership. President Xi Jin- ping's wife, Peng Liyuan , hosted US first lady Michelle Obama when she visited China in March.
Li Keqiang, born in 1955, became China's premier in March 2013. Like ex-president Hu Jintao, his power base lies with the Communist Youth League, where he was a member of the secretariat of the league’s central committee in the 1980s and later in the 1990s the secretariat’s first secretary. His regional governance experience includes a period as party boss of Henan province between 1998 and 2003 and party boss of Liaoning province beginning in 2004. He became vice premier in 2008. Li graduated from Peking University with a degree in economics.
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