|Spouse of the Paramount Leader of the People’s Republic of China|
Assumed office |
15 November 2012
|General Secretary||Xi Jinping|
|Preceded by||Liu Yongqing|
|Spouse of the President of China|
Assumed office |
14 March 2013
|Preceded by||Liu Yongqing|
|President of the People's Liberation Army Arts College|
Assumed office |
|Preceded by||Zhang Jigang|
20 November 1962|
|Political party||Communist Party of China|
|Alma mater||China Conservatory of Music|
|Profession||Chinese traditional ethnic singing|
|People's Liberation Army||People's Liberation Army Arts College (rank: Mj. General) July 2012 - Incumbent|
Peng Liyuan (simplified Chinese: 彭丽媛; traditional Chinese: 彭麗媛; pinyin: Péng Lìyuán, Mandarin pronunciation: [pʰə̌ŋ lɨ̂y̯ɛ̌n]; born 20 November 1962) is a Chinese contemporary folk singer and performing artist. Peng Liyuan is the wife of the current General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping. Peng is referred to as the "Chinese First Lady" by Chinese media. During 2012 to 2017, Peng is the President of then People's Liberation Army Academy of Art (name of the academy has been changed in 2017 to the Military and Cultural Institute of National Defense University, People's Liberation Army).
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. Peng has won many honors in singing competitions nationwide. Peng's 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). Peng also sang the theme songs of several popular TV series, such as, 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. She is known for her world-class fashion appearances, specifically on traditional Chinese styles, credited to her personal couturier Ma Ke.
In 2014, Peng was listed as the 57th Most Powerful Woman in the World by Forbes.
Peng Liyuan is a native of Yuncheng County, Shandong province. Peng joined the People's Liberation Army in 1980, when she was 18 years old, and began as an ordinary soldier. Because of her vocal talent, Peng later performed during frontline tours to boost troop morale during the Sino-Vietnamese border conflicts. 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.
For the greater part of their relationship, Peng has enjoyed a very positive reputation within China, comparable to that of her politician husband. Since her husband became General Secretary of the Communist Party (de facto paramount leader) in November 2012, and Chinese President (de jure head of state) in March 2013, the American press refers to her as the First Lady of China.
Xi and Peng were introduced by friends as many Chinese couples were in the 1980s. Xi was reputedly academic during their courtship, inquiring about singing techniques. 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 1 September 1987 in Xiamen, Fujian. Four days later, Peng Liyuan returned to Beijing to appear in the National Art Festival, and then immediately departed for the United States and Canada to perform. Since that time, Xi and Peng have led largely separate lives, with Peng spending most of her time in Beijing, and her husband spending his time in Fujian and later in Zhejiang.
Peng is actively involved in politics, and is a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Peng is a WHO Goodwill Ambassador for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS since 2011.
On 20 November 2014, Massey University in New Zealand conferred Peng an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of her international contributions to performing arts, health, and education. Peng sang in a song-and-dance number in 2007 shown on Chinese television, that featured Tibetans thanking the Chinese military for liberating them.
Directly after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in June 1989, Peng Liyuan sang for the 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. However, the image — seen and shared by outside observers — revived a memory of the leadership's preference to suppress. The image was from the back cover of a 1989 issue of the People's Liberation Army Pictorial, a publicly available military magazine.
In June 2013, the American Foreign Policy magazine's article Why Michelle Obama Shouldn't Meet With Peng Liyuan, approved the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama's choice not to meet with Peng Liyuan who allegedly sang in support of Chinese troops in Tiananmen Square in 1989, following a crackdown on protesters on 4 June. Nevertheless, Michele Obama met Peng in a number of highly publicised tours in both Beijing and Washington D.C.
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