China will send Politburo member and state councilor Liu Yandong to President Park Geun-hye's inauguration on Feb. 25.
"This is the first time China has sent a woman politician to a presidential inaugural ceremony in Korea," a diplomatic source in Beijing said Monday. "Liu is due to arrive in Seoul on Saturday and also meet Park separately."
Liu, the highest-ranking woman politician in China, is in charge of education, culture, science and technology. She is expected to be promoted to vice premier at the National People's Congress in March.
For President Lee Myung-bak's inauguration in 2008, Beijing sent Tang Jiaxuan, then state councilor for foreign affairs, and Roh Moo-hyun's inauguration in 2003 was attended by former vice premier Qian Qichen. This year, some pundits expected Dai Bingguo, the current state councilor for foreign affairs, but Liu is a higher-ranking official.
Liu is the daughter of Liu Ruilong, a revolutionary leader who took part in the Long March. As a secretary for the Communist Youth League in 1982, she became associated with Hu Jintao, who would rise to president. She is believed to be on close terms with the so-called "princelings," or scions of the revolutionary leaders.
She graduated from Tsinghua University like new Chinese leader Xi Jinping.