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At an APEC event to watch the fireworks in Beijing on Monday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin created a few of his own by slipping a shawl over the shoulders of China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan.

A smiling Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, accepted the offer, but removed the shawl only seconds later, replacing it with her own black jacket.

It was a fleeting moment but captured on live television and China’s internet users went wild for the gesture, posting the GIF image on their Weibo accounts.

Vladimir Putin carefully placed a shawl over the shoulders of China's stylish first lady Peng Liyuan

Vladimir Putin carefully placed a shawl over the shoulders of China’s stylish first lady Peng Liyuan (photo Getty Images)

Perhaps after seeing how the forums pounced on the moment, state TV stopped running that scene and there is no mention of it official state media.

But on Weibo and WeChat it is clearly what is making people talk and there has been little censorship so far.

This served as a reminder to China’s Weibo users that Russia’s “gallant” president had form. He once covered German Chancellor Merkel with a shawl at a previous G20 summit.

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First Lady Michelle Obama is visiting China for a week, with stops in Beijing and Chengdu.

Michelle Obama is accompanied by her mother and two daughters, Malia and Sasha. Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan will accompany her on part of her trip.

In a blog, Michelle Obama said she would focus on “the power and importance of education”.

Chinese media described the visit as “gentle diplomacy” and a chance to improve Sino-US ties.

“A strengthened personal bond between the first families of China and the United States will naturally help generate better understanding and more common ground between Beijing and Washington,” a Xinhua news agency commentary read.


Michelle Obama is in China for a week-long visit that includes stops in Beijing and Chengdu

Michelle Obama is in China for a week-long visit that includes stops in Beijing and Chengdu

Michelle Obama is expected to make stops at the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors Museum and the Chengdu Panda Base.

The first lady will also meet students and will deliver a speech at the Stanford Centre at Peking University.

The visit comes with a raft of issues testing China-US ties, such as the South China Sea dispute, Crimea and China’s relationship with North Korea.

The White House has stressed that Michelle Obama’s trip will be “non-political”.

She will focus on cultural exchange and avoid sensitive topics such as human rights and cyber security.

“Her visit and its agenda send a message that the relationship between the United States and China is not just between leaders, it’s a relationship between peoples,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, earlier this week.

Michelle Obama’s visit has prompted discussion in Chinese media.

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China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama have begun a two-day summit in Palm Springs, California.

The two leaders spoke of overcoming differences and forging a new relationship between their countries.

Barack Obama spoke of “areas of tension” and mentioned their rivalry in the Pacific, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and cyber espionage.

The meeting is the first between the two since Xi Jinping became president in March.

The informal setting is seen as a chance for the leaders of the world’s largest economies to build a rapport amid a slew of high-stakes issues.

The two men – looking relaxed and informal – met and shook hands under a shaded walkway at the Sunnylands estate just outside Palm Springs.

“Our decision to meet so early [in Xi Jinping’s term] signifies the importance of the US-China relationship,” Barack Obama said.

He said the US welcomed the rise of a peaceful China and wanted “economic order where nations are playing by the same rules”.

He also called for both countries to work together to tackle cyber security.

“Inevitably there are areas of tension between our countries,” he added.

Xi Jinping said he and Barack Obama were meeting “to chart the future of China-US relations and draw a blueprint for this relationship”.

He added: “The vast Pacific Ocean has enough space for two large countries like the United States and China.”

China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama have begun a two-day summit in Palm Springs

China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama have begun a two-day summit in Palm Springs

US lawmakers and human rights groups have also urged Barack Obama to call for the release of 16 high-profile prisoners, including jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Xi Jinping’s US stop is the fourth leg of a trip that has taken him to Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico.

Accompanied by his wife – folk singer Peng Liyuan – President Xi Jinping arrived at California’s Ontario International Airport on Thursday.

The summit, at the sprawling estate in Rancho Mirage, begins with a bilateral meeting followed by a working dinner. Additional talks will take place on Saturday morning.

The meeting comes months earlier than expected – Barack Obama and Xi Jinping had been expected to meet at an economic summit in Russia in September.

“I have the impression that both sides are willing to re-examine their premises, and to see whether they can achieve a relationship based on some perspective that goes beyond the moment – in other words that goes beyond solving immediate problems,” said former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Ahead of the summit, White House officials told reporters hacking would be raised, amid growing concern in the US over alleged intrusions from China in recent months.

Last month the Washington Post reported that Chinese hackers had accessed designs for more than two dozen US weapons systems, citing a confidential Pentagon report. The US also directly accused Beijing of targeting US government computers as part of a cyber espionage campaign in a report in early May.

China denies any role in state-sponsored hacking – earlier this week its internet chief said China had “mountains of data” pointing to US-based cyber attacks.

Trade issues are also expected to be a priority, as is North Korea – which conducted its third nuclear test in February. Beijing – Pyongyang’s nominal ally – is seen as the only nation capable of bringing meaningful pressure to bear on the communist state.

Other topics up for discussion may include territorial disputes in Asia and human rights in China.

Activists and relatives have urged the US president to raise the issue of the “China 16” – a group of individuals detained on political or religious grounds.

Analysts see the informal talks as a welcome departure from the more formal protocol adopted in US talks with former Chinese leaders.

Xi Jinping is said to have developed a warm relationship with Vice-President Joe Biden after the latter’s China visit in 2011. He also has ties to the US, having spent time in an Iowa town in 1985 as a part of a Chinese farming delegation.

During his US visit in February last year, the then vice-president called for deeper “strategic trust” with the US in a speech.

Observers will be waiting to see whether the summit with Barack Obama will be a first step in that direction.

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Michelle Obama snubbed China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan after she announced that she would not be attending the summit with the Chinese leading couple when they meet with President Barack Obama.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan are on a tour of the Americas, which is capped off with a meeting with President Barack Obama in California before they head back to China.

Peng Liyuan, however, will likely be making very few public appearances because Michelle Obama opted out of attending, saying that she needs to be in Washington as her daughters finish up the school year.

The move comes as a slight in the eyes of the Chinese, who are reportedly big fans of Michelle Obama and feel her presence would have given more significance to the visit.

Cheng Li, a Chinese policy expert at the Washington-based Brookings Institute, told The New York Times that Michelle Obama’s decision to stay at home will leave the Chinese “disappointed”.

“They certainly have very high expectations for this meeting…There will be more coverage in China than in the United States.”

Part of that comes as the US and China are at odds on a number of issues over accusations of cyber-hacking, disputes over intellectual property and mounting regional tensions over North Korea and the South China Sea.

As a result of the tense relationship, the meeting is being held in California at Sunnylands, a sprawling desert estate built by billionaire philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg is a place where political powerbrokers once discussed critical issues of the day and where royalty – real and Hollywood – soaked up sun and golfed on a private, nine-hole course.

Michelle Obama snubbed China's First Lady Peng Liyuan after she announced that she would not be attending the summit with the Chinese leading couple when they meet with President Barack Obama

Michelle Obama snubbed China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan after she announced that she would not be attending the summit with the Chinese leading couple when they meet with President Barack Obama

Even though it was meant as a cushioning factor, the location selection apparently backfired by preventing Michelle Obama from attending.

“First lady diplomacy is also very important and the US side has failed to cooperate,” Chinese political scientist Zhang Ming told The Telegraph.

“According to normal diplomatic etiquette this is very strange. It shouldn’t be like this.”

More than one expert has called for Michelle Obama to provide more of an explanation- and justification- for missing the meeting aside from just pointing to her duties as self-proclaimed “Mom-in-Chief”.

Aside from the slight from the Americans, Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan has received seemingly glowing reviews from the other world leaders that she met during her tour of Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico and Costa Rica.

“She’s a very beautiful person, very warm, and to chat with her in English was very wonderful,” said Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

Though this visit gained her a wider international audience, Peng Liyuan is used to greeting screaming throngs of crowds.

Prior to her 1987 marriage to the man who is now the Chinese president, Peng Liyuan made a name for herself as a folk singer.

Her music is very popular in the country and she spent years performing for the state’s military during her youth.

Peng Liyuan also regularly appears on a broadcast New Year’s program .

Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Russia on the first stop of his maiden overseas tour as president.

Xi Jinping is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the two likely to discuss energy and investment deals.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Xi Jinping said the two countries were “most important strategic partners” who spoke a “common language”.

President Xi Jinping will also visit Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo on his tour, which continues until March 30.

In South Africa, he will attend the fifth BRICS summit from 26-27 March. BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – five key emerging economies.

Xi Jinping’s wife, well-known military singer Peng Liyuan, is with him on this trip.

The choice of Moscow as Xi Jinping’s first destination is seen as symbolic, and a move from China to counter the US pivot to Asia.

Russia is one of the world’s biggest energy producers, and China is the world’s top energy consumer. Bilateral trade is booming, reaching a record $88 billion last year.

Beijing and Moscow have held similar positions over a number of thorny diplomatic issues, from Iran to Syria to North Korea, and some analysts suggest the bond is likely to strengthen.

Xi Jinping is accompanied by his wife, military singer Peng Liyuan, in his first overseas tour as China's president

Xi Jinping is accompanied by his wife, military singer Peng Liyuan, in his first overseas tour as China’s president

At a press conference, Xi Jinping called Russia China’s “friendly neighbor”, and said that the fact that he was visiting so soon after assuming presidency was “a testimony to the great importance China places on its relations with Russia.”

“China-Russia relations have entered a new phase in which the two countries provide major development opportunities to each other,” he said.

In an interview with Russian press, Vladimir Putin said that Russia-China co-operation would produce “a more just world order”.

Russia and China both demonstrated a “balanced and pragmatic approach” to international crises, he said.

In an article in 2012, Vladimir Putin had called for further economic co-operation with China to “catch the <<Chinese wind>> in [its] economic sails”.

China is also Africa’s largest trading partner, surpassing the US and its traditional European partners.

“China-Africa co-operation is comprehensive,” Xi Jinping said.

“It has contributed to Africa’s international standing.”

Xi Jinping was confirmed as China’s president last week, concluding a lengthy transition process that saw him assume the Communist Party leadership in November 2012.

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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.

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 Zedong.

But when he was in his teens, his father fell out with the Chairman and was sent to prison.

Xi Jinping was exiled to a far-flung, rural community of Liangjiahe, in Shaanxi province, where he lived in cave-dwellings and was forced to labor in the fields. Little more than 100 miles from Beijing, it is one of China’s poorest regions.

The family lived like peasants in a cave-like house carved out of the yellow rock formations that surrounded the village.

Xi Jinping is quoted as saying no problems he has encountered in political life compare to the hardship he suffered as a young man.

But he immersed himself in local politics and soon rose the ranks before today assuming the top posts in the Communist Party and the powerful military in a political transition unbowed by scandals, a slower economy and public demands for reforms.

Xi Jinping was introduced as the new party general secretary at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People a day after the close of a week-long party congress that underlined the communists’ determination to remain firmly in power.

The once-a-decade leadership change was carefully choreographed. It became clear Xi Jinping would lead China five years ago, when he was appointed to the Standing Committee – the nation’s apex of power – as the highest-ranked member who would not be of retirement age this year.

Xi Jinping’s colleagues in the new Standing Committee are Li Keqiang, the presumptive premier and chief economic official; Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang; Shanghai party secretary Yu Zhengsheng; propaganda chief Liu Yunshan; Vice Premier Wang Qishan; and Tianjin party secretary Zhang Gaoli.

In a speech broadcast live on Chinese state TV and worldwide, Xi Jinping said: “We shall do everything we can to live up to your trust and fulfill our mission.”

Xi Jinping, China’s new president, is the son of Communist revolutionary general Xi Zhongxun, a comrade of Chairman Mao Zedong

Xi Jinping, China’s new president, is the son of Communist revolutionary general Xi Zhongxun, a comrade of Chairman Mao Zedong

Xi Jinping biography: from impoverished cave dweller to China’s most powerful man

Very little is known about Xi Jinping’s upbringing – or his rise to power.

Xi Jinping is married to a popstar called Peng Liyuan who, for most of Xi’s career, has been more famous than him.

Chinese often tell a well-known joke: “Who is Xi Jinping? Why, he is the husband of Peng Liyuan.”

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

But when he was in his teens, his father fell out with the Chairman and was sent to prison.

Xi Jinping was exiled to a far-flung, rural community of Liangjiahe, in Shaanxi province, where he lived in cave-dwellings and was forced to labour in the fields.

Little more than 100 miles from Beijing, it is one of China’s poorest regions.

The family lived like peasants in a cave-like house carved out of the yellow rock formations that surrounded the village.

Xi Jinping is quoted as saying no problems he has encountered in political life compare to the hardship he suffered as a young man.

After leaving Liangjiahe, Xi Jinping headed to the busy coastal provinces that form China’s industrial heartland.

He quickly climbed the ranks to become the most senior party official first in Fujian, before Zhejiang and finally Shanghai.

There he developed the mind for business and economics that he is known for today.

Now with exports and the economy slowing, China hopes his skills can help get the nation back on track to overtaking America and becoming the biggest economy in the world.

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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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.

While it is known is that Xi Jinping is married to the honey-voiced megastar of popular Chinese folk music, Peng Liyuan, and they have only one child together, details of their daughter’s life are few and far between.

Their 20-year-old daughter, Xi Mingze, is currently attending Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, though little is known about China’s new First Daughter.

It is believed that Xi Mingze has been studying at the Ivy League school since transferring in two years ago after going to school in China.

She studies under a pseudonym so as not to attract undue attention.

It is rumored that Xi Mingze is surrounded by a staff of Chinese bodyguards 24 hours a day.

Xi Mingze has been studying at the Ivy League school since transferring in two years ago after going to school in China

Xi Mingze has been studying at the Ivy League school since transferring in two years ago after going to school in China

The Washington Post reported last May that Xi Mingze joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and is described by peers at the school as “studious and discreet”.

She often studies at the sorority house and speaks with unaccented English.

Her name, Mingze, denotes innocence and “moral probity”, Asia Time noted in 2007, speaking of how Xi Jinping’s ascent into China’s highest office could see a sort of parallel to the White House in terms of a father showing affection for his wife and children.

Xi Mingze isn’t the only progeny of China’s political leaders to attend the American institution. Bo Guagua, the only son of embattled politician Bo Xilai, also attended the institution and had a playboy “princeling” reputation while at the school.