News / Asia

    On Xi's First Trip, Many Eyes on China's First Lady

    China's new First Lady Peng Liyuan performs at 10th anniversary ceremonies of the Reunification, Hong Kong, June 30, 2007.
    China's new First Lady Peng Liyuan performs at 10th anniversary ceremonies of the Reunification, Hong Kong, June 30, 2007.
    As Chinese President Xi Jinping departs Friday on his first overseas tour, which includes stops in Moscow and three African countries, along with the BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa, Beijing's media is buzzing about the impact of Xi’s famous wife Peng Liyuan, who will be traveling with him.
     
    China's new first lady, one of the country’s most prominent folk singers and a World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, has long been as well known as her husband.
     
    Chinese President Xi Jinping, Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 15, 2012.Chinese President Xi Jinping, Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 15, 2012.
    x
    Chinese President Xi Jinping, Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 15, 2012.
    Chinese President Xi Jinping, Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Nov. 15, 2012.
    News that she would accompany her husband on the trip has already attracted widespread attention on China’s Twitter-like Weibo micro-blogging service, where expectations are high about her ability to boost Beijing’s image abroad.
     
    "Each country's First Lady has her own style and flare, and the thing that the world loves is color and diversity," says Tsinghua University political scientist Tang Xiaoyang.
     
    But Peng, who is accustomed to wearing long flowing gowns while belting out soaring songs that glorify the Communist Party, will now be tested on a wildly different stage, with audiences who are unfamiliar with her singing career.
     
    As she and President Xi embark on their trip to Moscow, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo, the outing is the president’s first opportunity to shape his image as China’s new leader before foreign audiences.
     
    In Russia, China’s president will focus on strengthening long steady bilateral ties and boosting already booming cooperation in fields such as energy, aviation, space and technology.
     
    In Africa, the goal is not only to boost trade ties, but ease concerns that China’s key interest on the continent is satisfying its massive resource needs.
     
    Renmin University journalism professor Zhong Xin says there are high expectations that Peng will help her husband convey a friendly image of China.
     
    "Mrs. Peng is beautiful and popular and because this is the first time she will be unveiled in her new public role, she will have a good influence," she said, explaining that the new First Lady will not only shed a positive light on herself, but the president and the entire country. Peng is expected to engage in some public activities with other first ladies, and media reports indicate she may even deliver a speech during next week’s BRICS summit.

    Related video report by Jeff Seldin
    Chinese First Lady Turning on the Charm and Turning Headsi
    X
    March 29, 2013 1:24 AM
    New Chinese President Xi Jinping is making headlines on his first trip abroad, meeting with leaders in Moscow and Africa. But for many around the world, it is his wife, Peng Liyuan, who has been stealing the show. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
    According to Zhong, such high-profile events for a Chinese first lady represent a departure from the past.
     
    "China doesn’t have a tradition of a First Lady following the president like in the West," says Zhong.
     
    While recent presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao did take their wives abroad, first ladies were typically kept far from the limelight and rarely mentioned in Chinese news reports.
     
    While Peng may be popular in China, political scientist Shi Yinhong says her husband’s success abroad will depend on his own political skills, not hers.
     
    “Up to now his wife is quite popular within China and maybe quite popular in Eastern society, but this is not important because Xi Jinping himself has charisma, at this stage it is sufficient," he says.
     
    Peng is Xi’s second wife. The two met, dated and later were married while China’s new president was serving as mayor in the southern city of Xiamen in 1987.

    You May Like

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.