Peng Liyuan

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Major general
Peng Liyuan
Peng Liyuan A.jpg
First Lady of China
Assumed office
14 March 2013
Preceded by Liu Yongqing
Spouse of the Paramount leader
Assumed office
15 November 2012
Preceded by Liu Yongqing
President of the People's Liberation Army Arts College
Assumed office
May 2012
Deputy Li Yonglong
Preceded by Zhang Jigang
Personal details
Born (1962-11-20) November 20, 1962 (age 53)
Linyi, China
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s) Xi Jinping
Children Xi Mingze
Residence Beijing
Alma mater China Conservatory of Music
Occupation Singer
Profession Chinese traditional ethnic singing
Military service
People's Liberation Army People's Liberation Army Arts College (rank: Mj. General) July 2012 - Incumbent
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Peng.

Peng Liyuan (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: 彭麗媛; pinyin: Péng Lìyuán; born November 20, 1962) is a renowned Chinese contemporary folk singer and performing artist. She is President of the People's Liberation Army Academy of Art and the wife of current Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as such referred to as the "Chinese First Lady" by the media.[1] In 2014, she was listed as the 57th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[2]

Peng gained popularity as a soprano singer from her regular appearances on the annual CCTV New Year's Gala, a widely viewed mainland Chinese television program that airs during the Chinese New Year.[3] She has won many honors in singing competitions nationwide.[3] Her most famous singles include People from Our Village (《父老乡亲》), Zhumulangma (《珠穆朗玛》) and In the Field of Hope (《在希望的田野上》). She also sang the theme songs of several popular TV series, like The Water Margin (1998). Peng was a civilian member of China's People's Liberation Army and held the civilian rank equivalent to major general before she was appointed the Art Academy's dean, upon which she was given the formal rank.[3] She was the first in China to obtain a Master's degree in traditional ethnic music when the degree was established in the 1980s.[4]


Peng and Angélica Rivera, the First Lady of Mexico, visit the children of the Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez in Mexico City.

Peng Liyuan is a native of Yuncheng County, Shandong province. She joined the People's Liberation Army in 1980 when she was 18 and began as an ordinary soldier, but with her vocal talent later performed during frontline tours to boost troop morale during the Sino-Vietnamese border conflicts.[5] Peng first performed nationally and came to fame during the earliest rendition of the CCTV New Year's Gala in 1982, when she performed On the Plains of Hope.

She has been married to Xi Jinping for over 25 years;[3] they have a daughter named Xi Mingze (习明泽) born in 1992, nicknamed as Xiao Muzi (小木子).[6] For the greater part of their relationship, Peng has had a considerable reputation within China, comparable to that of her politician husband.[3] Since her husband became General Secretary of the Communist Party in November 2012[3] and Chinese President in March 2013, American press refers to her as the First Lady of China.

Xi and Peng were introduced by friends like many Chinese couples in the 1980s. Xi was reputedly academic during their courtship, inquiring about singing techniques.[3] Xi was the son of famous Chinese revolutionary Xi Zhongxun, and Peng's family obviously accepted the relationship with ease, due to his attitude. After parental consent, the couple married on September 1, 1987 in Xiamen, Fujian. Four days later, Peng Liyuan returned to Beijing to appear in the national art festival and then immediately left for the United States and Canada to perform. Since then they have led largely separate lives, with Peng spending most of her time in Beijing and her husband in Fujian and later Zhejiang.

Peng is actively involved in politics herself, and is a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. She is also a WHO Goodwill Ambassador for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS since 2011.[7]

In 2014, she was listed as the 57th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[2]

On November 20, 2014, Massey University in New Zealand conferred her an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of her international contributions to performing arts, health and education.[8]

Controversy and Criticism[edit]

Right after the bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters surrounding the Tiananmen Square in June 1989, Peng Liyuan sang for martial-law troops. A photo showing the scene in which Peng, wearing a green military uniform, sings to helmeted and rifle-bearing troops seated in rows on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, was swiftly scrubbed from China's Internet before it could generate discussion online. But the image — seen and shared by outside observers — revived a memory the leadership prefers to suppress. The image is a snapshot of the back cover of a 1989 issue of a publicly available military magazine, the People's Liberation Army Pictorial.[9][10][11][12][13]

Peng also starred in a song-and-dance number in 2007 that has perky women in Tibetan garb sashaying behind her while she sings an ode to the army that invaded Tibet in 1959. The video has provoked severe criticism from Tibetan rights groups.[9][14]

In June 2013, the Foreign Policy magazine's article Why Michelle Obama shouldn't meet with Peng Liyuan approves the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama's right choice not to meet Peng Liyuan who notoriously sang in support of Chinese troops in Tiananmen Square in 1989, following a bloody crackdown on protesters on June 4. Peng is an army representative of a non-ally country who spent her military time belting out Chinese propaganda.[15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Guhantai news 3/30/2013
  2. ^ a b "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Page, Jeremy (February 13, 2012). "Meet China’s Folk Star First Lady-in-Waiting". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Peng Liyuan describes her own time in the army" (in Chinese). 2004-07-01. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  6. ^ Staff Reporter (February 16, 2012). "Red Nobility: Xi Jinping's Harvard daughter". Want China Times. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "UN health agency appoints Chinese singer as Goodwill Ambassador". 2011-06-03. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b "China's First Lady Serenaded Tiananmen Troops". The Associated Press. March 28, 2013. Retrieved March 31, 2013. 
  10. ^ UMBERTO BACCHI (March 28, 2013). "China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan a Censors' Headache". International Business Times. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  11. ^ 彭麗媛六四後舊照曝光 外媒:令中國尷尬的照片, Apple Daily (Taiwan), 2013年03月29日
  12. ^ 第一夫人觸屠殺敏感話題 彭麗媛六四勞軍照 閃電刪除, Apple Daily (Taiwan), 2013年03月30日
  13. ^ 彭麗媛 遭爆高歌慰勞六四屠殺部隊, Liberty Times, 2013-3-30
  14. ^ As China Readies for Transition, 7 Tibetan Self-Immolations in 7 Days, Time, 29 October 2012
  15. ^ Why Michelle Obama shouldn't meet with Peng Liyuan, Foreign Policy, 2013-6-5
  16. ^ 不見彭麗媛 陸網友酸蜜雪兒, Apple Daily (Taiwan), 2013-6-7

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Liu Yongqing
Spouse of the President of China
March 2013–Present
Succeeded by
Spouse of the Paramount leader
November 2012–Present