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.
William Ide
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 Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid