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Who is Wendi Deng Murdoch?

By Stan Grant and Elizabeth Yuan, CNN
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Wendi Deng: Murdoch's 'tiger wife'
  • Deng Murdoch was nicknamed "gold digger;" now she's "Crouching Wendi: Hidden Tiger"
  • She became Murdoch's third wife shortly after he divorced his wife of more than 30 years
  • The Murdochs have two young children together; he has six in all
  • Murdoch is founder of News Corp., currently under investigation over phone-hacking

(CNN) -- It's the slap that's been heard around the world: Wendi Deng Murdoch putting herself between her husband Rupert Murdoch and a protester armed with a shaving cream pie.

Deng had already cut a formidable presence in her pink suit, looking severe, as she sat behind her media mogul husband. But it was her lunge at Murdoch's attacker that set Twitter on fire.

Suddenly it's no longer Wendi the "gold digger" -- as some called her -- who snared the aging boss of News Corp. Now she is being dubbed Crouching Wendi: Hidden Tiger.

Chinese microblogs have gone into overdrive: One slap for Wendi, one knockout blow for the pride of Asian women.

Read Time's 'Top 10 Bad-Ass Wives'

"The harder she slapped, the more we can tell how eager she was to protect her husband ... she is still a woman who longs for love," MissQccc wrote.

Another microblogger, Yan Yu Qing Liu, wrote, "People are starting to see the 'gold digger' differently ... Wendi Deng has redefined Tiger Mom."

Who is Wendi Deng?
  • China
  • Beijing
  • Rupert Murdoch
  • News Corp.

But still others can't get past how this young Chinese woman snared the rich, powerful media mogul.

"If Murdoch was just one poor old man, would Wendi Deng stay with him and have his babies...Everything between them is about money," one microblogger wrote.

On the streets of Beijing, local Chinese are giving Mrs. Murdoch the benefit of the doubt.

"I used to think Deng only loves Murdoch's money. But her move yesterday was so fast and was kind of instinct... this may actually be true love!" one young woman said.

Another said, "I admire her courage. She did this out of her obligation and responsibility as a wife. She did it very well."

So, who is Wendi Deng?

She first made waves when she married Murdoch in 1999, shortly after he divorced his wife of more than 30 years, Anna Torv Murdoch Mann. Since then, the couple have had two daughters together, Chloe and Grace, the youngest among his six children.

By Rupert Murdoch's own account in an joint interview with his wife on CCTV's "Dialogue" program just last month, they met at a cocktail party shortly after she graduated with an MBA from Yale and went to work in Hong Kong at Star Television as an intern, a satellite television service he bought in 1993.

By then, his holdings under News Corp. included the Sunday Times, The Australian, News International, the New York Post, the Times of London, 20th Century Fox and Fox Broadcasting. (His acquisition of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team would coincide with their courtship.)

A native of China, she served as his interpreter during a tour in the mainland, he said. On CCTV, Rupert Murdoch recalled the days when he pursued Wendi-- a woman nearly half his age-- and his efforts to get her to marry him.

"I fell in love with her, and I asked her. She said no, and it took a long time to persuade her," he said.

They married after he finalized his divorce from his second wife.

It's been a long road for Deng. She has talked about growing up in a small town in China ("very,very poor"), the daughter of a factory engineer.

Her marriage with Murdoch wasn't her first; she married the man who, with his then-wife, had sponsored her for a student visa in the United States during the late 1980s. She eventually secured a "green card" to stay permanently in the United States, but her first marriage was short-lived.

Not much is known about Deng. She sits on the board of advisers at the Yale School of Management, her alma mater. She is listed as a co-founder for Big Feet Productions and also is co-producer (with Florence Sloan, friend and wife of former MGM CEO Harry Sloan) of "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan," a recent film directed by Wayne Wang ("Joy Luck Club").

But it is as Rupert Murdoch's wife that Wendi is now known.

And as the pie man found ... nothing comes between the slap-down sister and her mister.