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China’s New First Lady : Peng Liyuan

Updated on November 26, 2016
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Peng Liyuan : China's new first lady

China’s New First Lady : Peng Liyuan

There is going to be a China's new first lady. A political change-over of the highest level is taking place in China. This is supposed to be the most important political exercise once in 10 years for China. But this time, the scenario is not only political, but in the glamor and entertainment arena as well. To add spice to the meeting of the stern-face communist party elders, here comes Peng Liyuan.

In a period of 30 years, China has transformed itself into unbelievable achievements. It has transformed almost everything within its strides. China now has the highest railways, fastest trains, longest bridges, biggest dams, and whatever else you can think of. This was possible because China was willing to change with the time, to be pragmatic and proactive. Even its archaic and draconian communist system was transformed into a commercial-friendly politico-economy. Now looks like the final vestige of China’s political conservatism is about to change as well. Welcome the beautiful, exuberant and ever popular singing icon and now the new first lady of China, Peng Liyuan.

Peng Liyuan

The “Mother” of all changes for China

Tradition dictates that stern-face communist leaders seldom “display” their wives in public. It is the traditional Chinese protocol of the wife "walking two steps behind the husband". Looks like this is going to change for good. It would be an inevitable and uncontrollable change for China to stand on the world’s political stage. You see, the new China’s first lady is not the stereo-typed Chinese housewife who walks "two steps behind her husband". For she has been on center stage for the past 30 years! Way back in 1982, Peng Liyuan was already a singing sensation when she appeared on CCTV New Year Gala performance which was telecast live throughout the nation. "CCTV" is China Central Television, which is the largest broadcasting station in China, responsible for disseminating news and programs in China and throughout the world.

At that time no one knew who Xi Jinping was. Just in case you still don’t know him, Xi Jinping is the husband of Peng Liyuan. And Xi Jinping wil be China’s President in a few months’ time. Then Peng Liyuan will be China’s first lady.

Peng Liyuan has been very well-known throughout China for the past 30 years, and there is no way that her popularity can be erased from the public limelight, especially given the presence of internet and rapid global communication. The power that be, may try to reduce public exposure of China’s first lady so as not to overshadow the President. But try as it will, I think Peng Liyuan will still be adored as the pretty singing sensation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). If Peng Liyuan is able to “steal” the limelight from her President husband, then this will be the “mother” of all changes for China!

Peng Liyuan and husband

Who is Peng Liyuan

Peng Liyuan, nicknamed "The Peony Fairy". The peony (牡丹, mǔ dān) is the ‘queen of flowers’ and the flower of spring. How aptly fresh can it be? The peony flower can be considered the unofficial national flower of China.

Peng Liyuan ( 彭麗媛 ) was born on 20 November, 1962, which means she just turned 50 recently. Her husband of 25 years will be the next President of China in a few months' time, elevating her to be the first lady of China. They were married on 1 September, 1987. Peng Liyuan has been more famous and well-known than her husband. In fact there was a joke that when her husband Xi Jinping joined the Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee in 2007, the question was “Who is Xi Jinping?” and the answer “He is Peng Liyuan’s husband!” They have a daughter named Xi Mingze born in 1992 who is now studying in Harvard under another assumed name.

When she was 18 years old, Peng Liyuan joined the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as an ordinary soldier. She now holds the civilian rank equivalent to “major general”. She is active in politics and is a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

When her talent for singing was discovered, she began performing for the PLA to boost morale of the soldiers. Her big break came when she was invited to appear on CCTV New Year Gala program in 1982. When we talk about audience capacity in China, we are talking in millions; in fact, hundreds of millions! Since then she has performed at almost every CCTV New Year Gala program, until recently when her husband was promoted.

Peng Liyuan has a master degree in traditional ethnic music from the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing. She is beautiful with grace, poise, and personality; and of course with a great voice to boot. Her soprano vocal quality is specially adept for folk and traditional songs. And being in the PLA, she frequently sings patriotic songs. She has even performed in the U S and Canada. As she is a stage and tv perfomer, she is used to dress glamorously with heavy make-up. In terms of stage and public presence, I would say her husband has a lot to learn from her.

Little problem in big China for a pretty lady

The Chinese government knows too well that Peng Liyuan is a singing superstar in the eyes of the vast Chinese public. There is no way her popularity can be erased overnight in order not to over-shadow her husband’s stature as the President of China. Already news are out that the Government is trying its best to tone down Peng Liyuan’s public exposure. In the west, any President worth his salt would be too happy to showcase his wife if she is a superstar with wide audience appeal. But not China, as the political scenario is very different from the democratic west, where the President depends on the wishes of the voters. China’s President is not voted in by its citizens. He is President by virtue of being the top man in the Communist Party of China.

Peng Liyuan from now on will be first lady, and not superstar stage singer. How far the Chinese government is prepared to go in order to achieve this is yet to be seen. Circumstances have changed. This is the age of the internet, and the Chinese public is very savvy and outspoken nowadays. After all, there is no good reason to perpetuate an archaic and draconian tradition that is not beneficial to the Chinese government and is certainly not befitting a great nation that is supposed to be progressive and modernizing.

Any Chinese will be proud to announce to the world that the first lady is a glamorous singer worth her voice and appearance. And I am sure the whole world would certainly approve of this.

Let’s enjoy the shows before they are wiped out

There are numerous videos in the internet showcasing Peng Liyuan’s performances. Initially I have selected a number of them and included them in this article, from the patriotic, the traditional folk songs, to the sentimental romantic ballad. However, by some strange logic, I have been asked to delete all of them because they were not sung in English. Instead of further reasoning with the owner of this site, I have decided to delete all the videos. Please Google search for "Youtube Peng Liyuan" to listen to her singing or you can click HERE.

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    • Good Guy profile imageAUTHOR

      Justin Choo 

      2 years ago from Malaysia

      Thanks Jack for the encouragement.

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 

      2 years ago from Yorktown NY

      I enjoyed reading your article and learned quite a bit about China's first Lady. Three thumbs up!

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