PM Lee and wife lock their hearts in Xinjiang capital

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and wife Ho Ching throw away the keys of their love padlocks in Hongshan Park in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013. Lovers observe a local custom where they lock a pair of padlocks together onto a hills
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and wife Ho Ching throw away the keys of their love padlocks in Hongshan Park in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013. Lovers observe a local custom where they lock a pair of padlocks together onto a hillside fence and then hurl the keys off onto a leafy slope. It symbolises that their love locks will never be opened and separated. -- PHOTO: ZAOBAO
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and wife Ho Ching leave their love locks in Hongshan Park in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013. The locks have their names printed on them. Lovers observe a local custom where they lock a pair of padloc
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and wife Ho Ching leave their love locks in Hongshan Park in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013. The locks have their names printed on them. Lovers observe a local custom where they lock a pair of padlocks together onto a hillside fence and then hurl the keys off onto a leafy slope. It symbolises that their love locks will never be opened and separated. -- PHOTO: ZAOBAO
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and wife Ho Ching leave their love locks in Hongshan Park in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013. Lovers observe a local custom where they lock a pair of padlocks together onto a hillside fence and then h
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and wife Ho Ching leave their love locks in Hongshan Park in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013. Lovers observe a local custom where they lock a pair of padlocks together onto a hillside fence and then hurl the keys off onto a leafy slope. It symbolises that their love locks will never be opened and separated. -- PHOTO: ZAOBAO

URUMQI (Xinjiang) - They tied the knot decades ago, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and wife Ho Ching have again locked their hearts together and thrown the keys away - literally - this time in China's exotic Xinjiang region.

They were visiting the Hongshan Park in the region's capital Urumqi on Tuesday when local officials pointed out a local custom observed by lovers of locking a pair of padlocks together onto a hillside fence and then hurling the keys off onto a leafy slope.

Mr Lee and his wife gamely obliged when officials asked if they would be keen to leave their love locks among the possibly thousands of locks already left there by lovers.

Posing for photos, Mr and Mrs Lee followed the instructions by the officials and hugged each other after the deed was done. Mr Lee also took a photo of their locks with his mobile phone.

The Prime Minister is in Xinjiang as part of his week-long official visit to China that began on Monday in Beijing and will also take him to north-eastern Shenyang city in Liaoning province.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg