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Anticipation high for first lady Peng’s diplomatic debut

2013-03-21 14:34 Global Times     Web Editor: Gu Liping comment

China's first lady Peng Liyuan is set to make her diplomatic debut on Monday in Moscow alongside husband, newly-elected President Xi Jinping, whose maiden four-nation tour as head of State also includes attending the BRICS summit in South Africa.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to elaborate on details of the trip, but overseas media reports speculate Peng will make multiple appearance and she might even give a speech on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.

Feng Shaolei, dean of the Advanced School of International and Regional Studies at East China Normal University, told the Global Times that Peng's upcoming public debut as first lady shows China's push to follow in the footsteps of countries whose leaders are accompanied by their wives or partners on diplomatic trips.

"Peng is experienced in management and international exchanges. China has adopted this advanced idea of public diplomacy, and Peng's experience can help her shine on the international stage," Feng said.

Peng, a well-known folk singer and actress, was one of the first people in China to obtain a master's degree in traditional ethnic music. Peng is one of the founders of the School of National Vocal Music, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

She produced and starred in the lead role in the opera Mulan Psalm, which was performed at New York City's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Vienna State Opera House in Austria.

"World leaders being accompanied by their wives on diplomatic trips is an international routine. China has a good chance to make a favorable impression through Peng's charisma if the trip goes successfully," said Shi Yinhong, director of the Center on American Studies at the Renmin University of China.

In December last year, Xinhua issued a detailed profile of Xi that included Peng and the couple's daughter, Xi Mingze.

The profile outlined how Xi and Peng fell in love and detailed Peng's contributions to society, including staging a charity performance after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.


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