Though you wouldn't know it from his sometimes scruffy beard and bad jackets, Daniel Foa is a newfound member of one of the most powerful families on Earth. The Daily Telegraph just profiled that Foa, a 36-year-old-entrepreneur from Wimbledon, recently married in to the family of Xi Jinping, China's next president pictured above with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on a very fancy chair. Foa is married to and has one child with Xi's niece Hiu Ng. So the same guy that used to hang out at dingy expat bars in Beijing now entertains CEOs and world leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square. It's an upgrade to say the least.
Foa moved to Beijing just after college, where he studied economics and quickly found his place in the ex-pat community there. While he succeeded in working his way up a number multinational companies just getting started in the Chinese market, his life sounds like it was pretty unextraordinary. He drank drinks with a pack of ex-pats, became the captain of a local football team and according to one person who met him a number of times was known for his "ill-fitting jackets" and weird name. "There was a little gang of them who liked going to champagne brunches and playing tennis," the source told The Telegraph. "I would not say they were playboys but they liked going out every night for a drink."
Then, he met his princess. Or the 21st-century Chinese version of a princess. Foa and Hui Ng apparently crossed paths through ex-pat circles, got married, had a kid and moved out to Beijing suburb Shunyi. Together, the couple run businesses related to charity and green issues and have apparently done work with the Clinton Foundation. "They live quite a modest life. They do not appear to be hugely rich and he was always generally careful about money," said a friend of the family. "You will not find many people who will say a bad word about him," said another. "But it is very difficult to get a cup of coffee with him because he is under constant scrutiny from the family."
Things could change pretty dramatically with Foa's uncle takes office. A lot of people have very high hopes for Xi Jinping, and his presidency comes at a particularly important time for China, as it struggles to get a grip on its economy and find its place as a global superpower. It seems almost appropriate that there's a Brit in the wings, even if its just a nephew.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.