'Iron Lady' plans a clean break

2007-12-25 01:01:25 Shanghai Daily

Vice Premier Wu Yi thanks the 500 people attending the Congress of China Chamber of International Commerce in Beijing yesterday for their contribution to the country's economic development. The 69-year-old Wu, known as China's Iron Lady, told the conference that she will retire next year after the National People's Congress concludes its annual session in March.

VICE Premier Wu Yi has said she will not take any job after her retirement next year and hopes "no one will remember me."

"I've already said explicitly that I will not take any posts either in government departments or social organizations after retirement," Wu, a veteran official who oversees the country's foreign trade, told a meeting of the China Chamber of International Commerce in Beijing yesterday, China News Service reported today.

"I hope people can completely forget me."

The 69-year-old Wu, considered the Iron Lady of China, is due to retire after the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March.

A native of Wuhan City, Hubei Province, she earned her reputation for her negotiation skills defending China's interests at international trade talks under pressure from foreign countries over the currency and trade surplus.

She was also admired for her tough stance when she replaced former Health Minister Zhang Wenkang in the SARS crisis of April 2003, an epidemic that killed thousands of Chinese.

Wu, a graduate in oil-refinery engineering, has been listed among the top three powerful women in the world for three years by Forbes magazine in the United States.

She ranked No. 2 on this year's Forbes list of the World's Most Powerful Women, following Angela Merkel, the first woman to become chancellor of Germany. Ho Ching of Singapore, chief executive of Temasek Holdings, was third on the list.

Forbes noted that Wu continues to help lead a government that oversees an economy whose gross domestic product may soon eclipse Germany's, making it the third-biggest in the world.

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson credited her as "an outstanding representative of China" when he farewelled his old friend and rival negotiator at the closing ceremony of the Third Sino-US Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing this month.