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Woman governor not feeling out of place

Wed Mar 22 2006 GMT

What does China's only incumbent female governor think of her work?

Song Xiuyan, governor of Northwest China's Qinghai Province, said she feels quite at ease. "I have never felt any difficulty in performing my duty," she told China Daily. "Most of my colleagues are male but all of them support me.

"Working together with so many male colleagues is not an unpleasant thing at all," Song said. "Rather, they have given me more support than I expected."

On January 22 last year, the 51-year-old was elected governor of Qinghai, which has a population of 5.4 million and an area twice the size of Germany. Song is only the third female provincial governor since 1949 when New China was founded.

Gu Xiulian served as governor of East China's Jiangsu Province between 1982 and 1989, and Uyunqimg was chairman of North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region between 2001 and 2003.

Song acknowledged her status as China's only incumbent female governor inevitably draws attention from the public although she has always tried to keep a low profile.

In February, she was voted as one of the 10 Chinese Women of the Times for 2005 alongside Lien Fang Yu, the wife of Lien Chan, the former chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang.

Is there any difference between her and other male governors in the country's 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions?

"No, I do the same as male governors serving the people," Song said.

And if you must find some difference, she added, female leaders who are sometimes considered weak show stronger will and a broader mind at times of difficulty.

But how does she deal with her role as governor, wife and mother?

"Actually, everyone has to find the right balance between work and family. Again it's the same (with female and male governors)."

Local media reports have said the Song's neighbours often see her carrying a basket to shop for vegetables.

(China Daily)

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