Jet Li, WHO Goodwill Ambassador: biography

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan with WHO Goodwill Ambassador Jet Li
WHO/Nick Otto

On 3 April 2009, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan appointed international film star Jet Li as WHO Goodwill Ambassador. As a WHO Goodwill Ambassador, Jet Li will work to raise awareness of the health of populations in the wake of disasters. He has personally experienced the Southeast Asian tsunami in the Maldives, the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan and the 2009 Typhoon Marakot in Taiwan and witnessed the breakdown in healthcare and consequesnces for victims of these disasters. Jet Li founded the One Foundation, a Chinese-based organization whose goal is to develop China's nascent philanthropy industry. One of the main program areas is to help young people cope with mental well-being and find a balance in life.

Born in Beijing on 26 April 1963, Jet Li began studying wushu (the Chinese term for martial arts) at the age of 8. After three years of extensive training, Li won his first national championship and was selected by the government to represent the country by performing martial arts at various state functions in over 45 different countries. For the five years 1974-1979, he was the All-Around National Wushu Champion of China.

Shortly after retiring from the sport at the age of 17, his film career kicked off with director Chang Hsin Yen and Shaolin Temple. Today he has a string of film credits to his name including Lethal Weapon 4 opposite Mel Gibson, Romeo Must Die, The One, Kiss of the Dragon, and Hero.

Jet Li is married to Nina Chi Li and has four daughters.