China’s first lady gets media attention. In the past, whenever a Chinese leader visited other nations, the Chinese media almost never gave China’s first lady any part of the spotlight. This time, China’s first lady Peng Liyuan’s picture appeared on hundreds of Chinese media reports.
Actually, a majority of the reports contain a close-up picture of Peng and provide a detailed story of her background. Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Russia on March 22. His plane arrived in Moscow at noon and Peng was next to him as they exited the cabin.
They both had dark coats on. Xi had a navy blue scarf and Peng had a light blue one, as if they were wearing matching outfits.
The musical background of China’s first lady
Peng is 50 years old and was born in Pengzhuang Village, Yuncheng County, Shandong Province. Her nickname is Lili. She has one brother and one sister. Her parents worked in a musical troupe in the county in earlier years. During the Cultural Revolution, Peng’s family suffered tremendously because Peng’s uncle on her mother’s side lived in Taiwan.
Peng used to be a professional singer. She began her singing career when she was 14 and got into the Voice Department (now Voice and Opera Department) of the China Conservatory by the age of 18. She finished her bachelors and masters curriculums, and became the first Master of Science in ethnic vocal music in China. She was a household name then.
Political life trumps artistic career
In 1987, she married Xi, who was the deputy mayor of Xiamen City at the time. She was Xi’s second wife. They have a daughter named Xi Mingze. After Xi became a standing member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party in 2007, Peng stopped participating in commercial performances.
On June 3, 2012, the World Health Organisation appointed Peng as Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
Feedback from Chinese readers:
“The first lady changed her clothes every day to create a good image. But none of the clothes she wears embody the true style of our Han nationality. Still copying the Western style of clothing. As big a country as China is, we couldn’t even create Chinese traditional clothing for our first lady.”
“The Chinese News agency reported: “…at last, China has a graceful and elegant first lady who can improve China’s image and show China’s soft power.”
My comment is twofold: If our big country’s image depends on the beauty of its first lady, that is a sad for its people. The first lady’s function is a small diplomatic role. She can’t be expected to shoulder too much for improving China’s soft power. That is something every Chinese politician must work on to improve.
Translated By Hsin Yi Lin