Xi's wife Peng to lead China's charm offensive at BRICS summit

Xi's wife Peng to lead China's charm offensive at BRICS summit

Peng Liyuan, China's First Lady and a celebrated singer, is set to bring colour and glamour to the this month's BRICS summit in Durban.

Peng, 50, famous in China for her fiery performances of patriotic songs, will have her own speaking engagement as her husband, President Xi Jinping attends the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit at Durban being held on March 26-27, the Financial Times reported.

Xi has chosen to visit Russia first after he took over as President yesterday and from there he would be going to Durban to attend the BRICS summit, where he would be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the first time.

"She will make an independent appearance," said a friend of Peng, the Times report said.
Another person briefed on plans for the trip saying "she can help China build soft power."
The move underscores the sense that Xi is treading a different path from his predecessor, Hu Jintao, who was known for his stiff and scripted style, the report said.

It is perhaps for first time of after Mao Zedong era, China has high-profile first lady bringing colour and glamour to high office.

Xi, 59, a divorcee, married Peng, ten years older to him, while he was the deputy mayor of Xiamen City reportedly after months of dating.

Unlike other Communist leaders who rise through party ranks in relative obscurity, Xi's marriage to Peng made him well known all over the country.

He is perhaps the only Communist Party leader of his times who is well known all over the country even before he held high office.

The last famous first lady was Jiang Qing, the wife of Mao and the member of infamous Gang of Four. She was also an actress until she married Mao in 1938 and grew to be a powerful woman attempting to seize power after his death.

As a member of "gang four" she was sentenced to death, which was later converted to life imprisonment. She reported to have committed suicide in 1991.

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