Li Keqiang, the next premier, is married to an English professor Cheng Hong, pictured.
As Li, 57, speaks English, he is more comfortable with the West than his predecessors.
He had been an enforcer who kept a lid on bad news, but shown he is able to rapidly reverse course.
He was governor of Henan in 1998 when tens of thousands of people contracted HIV from illegal blood-buying rings.
Li oversaw a campaign to squelch reporting about it, harass activists and isolate affected villages. When Beijing's stance changed, Li showed canny instincts by quickly channeling aid to victims and making shows of compassion.
Since his 2007 rise to the Standing Committee, Li has overseen modest progress in his areas of responsibility, including public health, food safety and housing. He has steered clear of webs of graft.
He was introduced to politics during the Cultural Revolution, then entered Peking University. After graduation, Li went to work at the Communist Youth League, which grooms graduates for party roles.