|Peng is one of China's most celebrated folksingers|
Monday, March 25, 2013
China's New First Lady
Peng Liyuan, wife of China's new president, Xi Jingping, made her debut as first lady accompanying Xi's first overseas trip to Moscow.
The Atlantic describes her as having all the right qualities of a first lady: "ease in the spotlight, approachable beauty, and her own powerful fame."
Peng, a popular folksinger for over 30 years, has been a public figure long before her new status as first lady, even surpassing her husband Xi's fame until recent years. Aside from being a singer, she serves as ambassador for tobacco control, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS for the World Health Organization, an initiative aided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Since Xi's appointment to party leader last November, Peng's conspicuous absence from the public rose speculations of whether she would follow the orthodoxical first lady and stay out of the spotlight.
However, recent developments, including her debut in Moscow, suggests the new government reconsidering her role in politics and foreign relations; she is reported to host speaking engagement at the coming BRIC summit.
Peng's status, experience and modest background equips her better than any previous first lady in dealing with domestic media. Observers say she helps in softening Xi's political image keeping him, and the party, in touch with the general public.
Peng new role represents a shift in public relations between the new government, the public and the press. In the 12th National People's Congress, State Council restructured and cut down ministries and commissions, including the merge of State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the General Administration of Press and Publication into a new bureau paving the convergence of television, telecommunication and the internet. Xinhua New Agency, the official press agency for the PRC and originally a subordinate of the State Council, will become an independent new corporation.
Xi is also donned as China's first social media president.He, or someone close to him, maintains a personal Weibo (Chinese equivalent of Twitter) account, the first source to leak key details of his schedule and close-up pictures of his daily life. A surprising development in a country with no Facebook or Twitter.