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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora