Home World Asia News Peng Liyuan: from The Peony Fairy showbiz superstar to China’s First Lady

Peng Liyuan: from The Peony Fairy showbiz superstar to China’s First Lady

Xi Jinping has just become the most powerful military leader-elect to the most populous country in the world, and yet there are details that remain unknown about China’s new president.

Xi Jinping is married to the honey-voiced megastar of popular Chinese folk music, Peng Liyuan, and they have only one child together, Xi Mingze.

Peng Liyuan has become China’s first high-profile political spouse since Jiang Qing, the late wife of Chairman Mao Zedong.

Her huge success in the entertainment industry has run alongside her staunch loyalty to the Communist Party.

Peng Liyuan joined the People’s Liberation Army aged 18 and rose to the rank of major-general, a post she still holds.

But when her superiors discovered her talent for singing, Peng Liyuan began touring army bases serenading troops in a program designed to boost morale.

From there her rise to fame was meteoric. Peng Liyuan is best known for performing at CCTV’s New Year’s Gala – a show watched by hundreds of millions of people throughout China – almost every year since its inception in 1982.

Almost all of her songs are in praise of the Communist Party and frequently appears on state television to sing propagandist ballads with names including Plains of Hope and People From Our Village.

In June 2011, Peng Liyuan was even appointed World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/Aids and tuberculosis.

Peng Liyuan has become China's first high-profile political spouse since Jiang Qing, the late wife of Chairman Mao Zedong

Peng Liyuan has become China’s first high-profile political spouse since Jiang Qing, the late wife of Chairman Mao Zedong

Peng Liyuan has also shied away from appearing in public with her husband or talking about their relationship until recently, fuelling speculation that she may take a more active role in his presidency than any of her predecessors.

In a rare interview in 2007, Peng Liyuan told a state-run magazine: “When he comes home, I’ve never thought of it as though there’s some leader in the house.

“In my eyes, he’s just my husband. When I get home, he doesn’t think of me as some famous star. In his eyes, I’m simply his wife.”


But while Peng Liyuan’s is still one of the most famous faces in the country, comparatively little is known of her husband, a man who spent most of his teens living in a cave, laboring in the fields of one of China’s poorest regions.

Xi Jinping is the son of Communist revolutionary general Xi Zhongxun, a comrade of Chairman Mao.

The Peony Fairy biography: from showbiz superstar to China’s First Lady

Born in 1962, Peng Liyuan is a Chinese folk singer and actress

  • Peng Liyuan has been married to Xi Jinping for 25 years with whom she has a daughter, Xi Mingze, 20
  • The couple are said to have met through friends in the mid 1980s
  • Nicknamed The Peony Fairy, Peng Liyuan has graced television screens in China for more than a decade, her honeyed tones punctuating state-run TV shows and Communist Party rallies
  • Peng Liyuan is best known for her propagandist ballads including Plains of Hope and People From Our Village
  • She joined the People’s Liberation Army aged 18 and rose to the civilian rank of major-general, a post she still holds
  • Peng Liyuan has performed all over the world, including, New York, Tokyo and Vienna
  • In June 2011, Peng Liyuan was even appointed World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis

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