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Our Beloved “First Ladies”

Popularity 1Viewed 7290 times 2013-3-23 14:31 |System category:News| Peng, Liyuan

As an adorable folk music singer, she has brought joy and peace with dozens of beloved songs to hundreds of thousands of families in the past 3 decades, especially on the annual Spring Festival gala.  As a prestigious Major General in the Chinese army’s musical troupe, she would be seen singing in remote frontiers, in isolated islands, in debris-covered earthquake areas, and in flood-stricken countries, powering the rescuing efforts and stimulating the army morale. As a Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS for the World Health Organization, she has been participating in various charity activities and helping lobby governments around the world to take action to prevent and cure the two diseases in recent years. As a woman bearing Chinese traditional idea, she proves to be a qualified wife and an intelligent mother with her daughter studying in Harvard. And now, in addition to all these glories, she steps into the limelight again as the full-fledged first lady as her husband, Xi Jinping, began to take the reins of the 2nd largest world economy.


She is Peng Liyuan. At the moment she is accompanying her husband in his debut trip as a president to Russia and several African countries. With a smile on her face, dressed in a simple black peacoat and an elegant unbranded bag in her hand, she moved elegantly down the ladder of the chartered plane yesterday and became an instant internet hit.


Glamorous, beautiful, approachable, vivacious, magnanimous, composed and all are words netizens used to express their affections for the newly political-savvy star. She is admired not only for her enchanted qualities, but also because the fact that a charming, full-fledged first lady has long been expected of the civilized nation.


In American culture, first ladies are always playing a role of great importance, just as Hillary Clinton says, “The American people have made the role of the First Lady one of the most important jobs in the country. ... It is a tribute to American women that, coming from different social and economic backgrounds, from many different geographical regions, and with diverse educational preparation, each First Lady served our country so well. Each left her own mark, and each teaches us something special about our history.” When it comes to state visit, it’s better for the first ladies to embody the country her husband is manipulating. In a word, first ladies are a soft power, which register a country’s spiritual image.


No matter when the foreign first ladies such as Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, were reported to be enrolled in a state visit, we were trying to find their counterparts of our own. We were glad and felt comfortable to find that Wang Yeping, ex-President Jiang Zeming’s wife, and Liu Yongqing, ex-President Hu Jintao’s wife, were on the spot. Both of them are great!


“I think the major role of the First Lady is to take care of the President so that he can best serve the people. And not to fail her family, her husband, and children.” (Jackie Kennedy, spouse of US ex-President Jackie Kennedy) Furthermore,The first lady is, and always has been, an unpaid public servant elected by one person, her husband.”(Lady Bird Johnson, spouse of US ex-President Lyndon B. Johnson) As a matter of fact, we must say Mrs. Wang and Mrs. Liu played their role of first lady well. They have contributed a lot for their nation’s interests.


However, there is no denying that our first ladies seemed to have been keeping a low profile all the time, the reasons for which may not be an easy task to expound. Except for political, historical and traditional elements, personal physical and comprehensive qualities are likely to be two deterrents for them to better play the role.


Now comes Peng Liyuan. She is sure to make a great difference.


She is embodying an open, confident, and energetic China. There is ample reason to believe that her performance as the first lady will be as excellent, if not more, as that as a prestigious singer.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report jison_ma 2013-3-23 21:16
It seems she won't sing anymore. In this point, maybe it is a pity.

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A Researcher on Cross-culture Communication

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Recent comments
  • Middle-east in my Eyes 2014-11-16 16:19

    You certainly spent the past year in a very interesting place.  I can't wait to hear more about it! Had you left China before?

  • Middle-east in my Eyes 2014-11-12 13:33

    ALittleBoat: Since I am a Chinese, surely I am sort of Orinetalist, the word you used but I dont fully understand. Would you like to give me a detailed explainatio ...
    Ah, no. You mean you are an Oriental person because you're Chinese. Not an Orientalist. However, if one calls himself Oriental (I sometimes do) that means there's some sarcasm in it. Because calling someone or something Oriental puts a distance between that person or thing and yourself. That thing (person) is not like you, is different, you are entitled to judge it. Because, West is supposed to be active and masculine and East is supposed to be passive and feminine. Now I guess you can understand the nature of binary world view? (Because it suggests that Eastern people, Chinese men are REDUCED to feminine beings) Power structure constructed in the modern world equates masculinity with power and femininity with weakness, that's why being called feminine is actually an insult. So is being lesser to an Occiental (Western) person. Do you understand?

    Orientalism is a result of the binary world view (good/bad, light/darkness, West/East, Occident/Orient, civilization/nature etc etc) and takes the West as the potent, active subject while deems the East (or even South) as an object for personal enjoyment to be assessed. It's like yourself is the judge or the teacher to grade people or things lesser than yourself.

    You see what I mean?

    Yes, wiki is right and there is a whole bunch of literary works depicting Orientalist views. Just like you objectified the Middle East and Muslim women who cover themselves in black. Even though you are Chinese, (on the VICTIMIZED side of Orientalism) you adopt the attitude of a 19th century British or French nobleman towards midde east. This is just sad. The same attitude is employed by Japanese people against China and other South East Asian countries. Because they think they are more "modern" (a quality associated with the West) and therefore better.

    About Orientalism and binary worldview, I wrote this blog, you can take a look if you like to:

    And please please, make sure you understand the meaning of a word before saying "that's what I am" proudly!

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