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A new book, published in Hong Kong, claims that China’s first Prime Minister, Zhou Enlai, was probably gay.

Zhou, who served as the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China, and presented a modern and progressive face for the country from 1949 until his death in 1976, is best known for consolidating control of the Communist Party.

The Premier had two children during his 51-year marriage to Deng Yingchao, his wife. However, a shocking new book called the Secret Emotional Life of Zhou Enlai, written by Tsoi Wing-mui, reveals that Zhou may have been gay and “in love” with a younger family friend and schoolmate, Li Fujing.

The author, Tsoi, expects that the book will be banned in China, and told the BBC News “Zhou Enlai was a tragic figure. He was very famous and always under the media spotlight. But there were many aspects of his life that were like riddles and difficult to explain.”

Tsoi’s main source material for the claim, which she says many will regard as a smear campaign, was a diary written by Zhou when he was 19 and studying abroad. She spent three years researching the book.

Gay marriage is not yet legal in China, but gay sex is not illegal.

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