China swoons over new first lady

Published on Author christycui

The new first lady stepping off the plane in Russia
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.

5 Responses to China swoons over new first lady

  1. Is it a good sign that the leadership in China is paying more attention to their media image? Maybe – if it means that they pay greater attention to popular complaints and not just popular adulation.

  2. The recent buzz concerning the first lady seems to be interesting considering the fact that fashion has an infinitesimal role in politics. People need to be more concerned with the issues on hand and how she will be able to help bolster the Chinese government and not whether she wears a louis vuitton purse or not.

  3. Traditionally, China’s First Ladies remain in the background by keeping a low profile. The past two, Liu Yongqing and Wang Yeping mainly stayed out of the spotlight. However, I think the recent change with Peng Liyuan’s involvement is a success for Chinese women. Her activism further defends women getting out of the household. Additionally, Peng is a United Nations Ambassador of Health so it will be interesting to see if she takes an active role in that sense. Although what she wears should not be a primary focus that is likely just a reflection of the 21st century- we obsess over Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama. In general, I think the enthusiasm for Peng could be good thing for women as well as further relating the West to China.

  4. Women in general wield relatively little power at the top of the Chinese power structure. Additionally, China’s First Ladies have kept low profiles. With Peng’s emerging high profile status, she may be able to help her husband Xi consolidate his power, to bring pride to Chinese Fashion brands (since her fashion choices are so closely monitored), and to bring awareness to health issues. Peng serves as an ambassador for the World Health Organization and she has worked on issues such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS diseases that still carry considerable social stigma in China. Additionally, she appeared alongside Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as part of a campaign to discourage smoking, a high-profile cause since two-thirds of men smoke in China. Most importantly,through her elegance and humanitarian nature, Peng may be able to raise national self-respect and confidence.

  5. I wonder if she will use her role as first lady to push important social issues that are often left behind in heated political discussions. Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity may seem trivial compared to the issues her husband handles, but unless we can curb that trend the United States’ future health (both literal a figurative) is in jeopardy. Peng Liyuan has a great opportunity to help shape her nation as it grows.