Peng Liyuan, a famous folk singer who appeared regularly on state television programs in her previous career, was more well-known than his husband Xi Jingping, the current president, until Xi took the new leadership position. Unlike her predecessors who were much low-profile as first ladies, Ms. Peng received much praise for her new public image and there’s even heated discussion on the fashionable outfit she wore when she stepped off the plane during her Russia visit.
According to the article, “the praise of Ms. Peng, a famous folk singer, evoked the fuss over Michelle Obama in 2008 and built on expectations by many political analysts and diplomats that Ms. Peng will bolster and soften her husband’s image by becoming the first wife of a Communist Chinese leader to play a role similar to that of a U.S. first lady”.
The enthusiasm for Peng could also have come from the Chinese’s affection for Soong Ching Ling, a famed beauty who was the wife of Sun Yat-sen, China’s first republican president.
Here’s the the read from the WSJ.