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China's soft power enhanced abroad by its first lady: Study

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

Peng Liyuan, the celebrity wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, has played a key role in successfully projecting the Communist giant's soft power abroad through her public diplomacy, according to a study on the country's first lady.

"China has conveyed kindness and goodwill to the world through the first lady's public diplomacy when the country has been challenged during the rapid economic development," a report by Renmin University of China - which analyses China's public diplomatic practices of government, enterprises and the media - said.

Unlike any other Chinese leaders in recent times, Peng, 52, has accompanied Xi on almost all foreign tours and pictures of the two, especially the Gujarthi Jhula (swing) during their visit to Ahmedabad, were widely projected at home and abroad.

"Since Peng Liyuan paid a formal visit to Russia with President Xi Jinping in March 2013, her modesty, appearance and elegant manners, as well as her passion for charity and attention to vulnerable groups, have enchanted domestic and international media," said Zhou Jiali, researcher at China Foreign Affairs University.

"Most foreign media believe that Peng Liyuan is a positive factor raising China's image and have called her China's new business card," Jiali was quoted as saying by the state-run China Daily.

The public diplomacy report collected data from Peng's international visits and summarised that the first lady has charmed the world in four ways - her personal appearance to convey Chinese culture, charity actions to communicate love and care, music to open communication and a successful marriage to the leader.

Peng is a popular folk song singer and well-known musician in China who believes 'music has no boundaries'.

Music is an important way to communicate with foreign people. Peng sang a classic Chinese folk song Red Plum Blossoming with Russian artists during the international visit in March 2013, the report said.

"China's actions draw the world's attention now. When China's policies adjust, it affects the global economy. Also, Chinese people have become more interested in international affairs," said Zhao Qizheng, chief editor of the report and the former minister of China's State Council Information Office.

"International media usually diminish China in terms of the Chinese threat, and China's products being bad. However, China is not bad," Zhao said, adding that it is necessary to demonstrate an authentic image of China to the world through public diplomacy.

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First Published: Thu, April 16 2015. 16:42 IST