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最新订阅内容:英语爱好者摘要: They share plenty of common ground, even beyond the stylish outfits and the proximity to power. Both grew up in modest

 They share plenty of common ground, even beyond the stylish outfits and the proximity to power. Both grew up in modest circumstances, and both have daughters. They're nearly the same age.

Yet when Michelle Obama, 50, arrives in China on Thursday to meet her 51-year-old Chinese counterpart Peng Liyuan, the two will also make a fascinating study in contrasts. If Obama's narrative is one of resilience, Peng's is one of restraint.

Obama will arrive in Beijing with her daughters Sasha and Malia, and her mother Marian Robinson, for a week of sightseeing and speeches about people-to-people exchange. Peng will accompany her during a visit to a Beijing school, a dinner and a performance. Obama will address American and Chinese students at the prestigious Peking University and then head south for a whirlwind tour through the cities of Xi'an and Chengdu.

When Obama's predecessors Laura Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton visited China during their husbands' tenures, they grilled its leadership on difficult political topics such as human rights. Obama plans to focus on education and cultural exchange, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, told reporters on Monday.

Yet Obama's personal narrative – one of "someone [from] a disadvantaged economic background from a minority group" making it to the top – would send a powerful message on its own, Rhodes said. "That alone I think speaks to things like respect for human rights that are interwoven into the DNA of the US."

Peng scaled the heights of fame long before her husband, President Xi Jinping. She spent two decades as a nationally renowned folksinger, known for belting out patriotic tunes on elaborate television specials. She began to dodge the limelight in 2007, to give precedence to Xi's political career.

Last March, Peng sent shockwaves through Chinese social media when she appeared with Xi in Moscow wearing a sharp trench coat and handbag.

One fan – a 34-year-old woman named Li who started a popular Peng Liyuan fan group online – described her hero as humble, friendly, and glamorous.

"Her influence means far more now than it could if she was just a singer," she said. "She gives our people face – and she not only has traditional beauty, but also international charm."

While Sasha and Malia Obama frequently appear in the US press, Peng's 21-year-old daughter Xi Mingze, who pseudonymously enrolled at Harvard University in 2010, is shrouded in a cloak of official secrecy. Even the notoriously prying Mail on Sunday was unable to discover much about her in a 2012 profile – "she's a bookworm, very quiet and studious", an acquaintance told the paper. She's under constant protection by bodyguards, and she rarely parties.

Peng was born in Yuncheng, a rural county in coastal Shandong Province, in 1962. Her mother was a singer, and her father was a cultural bureaucrat, former neighbours told the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao. She joined the People's Liberation Army at 18 as a civilian. By 1986, when she met her future husband Xi Jinping on a blind date, she was already a renowned soprano; he was a mid-level provincial official.

While the tradition of a "first lady" isn't new to China, it's been long dormant. Sun Yatsen (a revolutionary who toppled the Qing Dynasty in 1911), Chiang Kai-Shek (China's top leader throughout much of the 1940s), and Liu Shaoqi (a head of state under Mao), all had glamorous wives who accompanied them on international trips.

"In the US, women enjoy equal rights as men in politics," said Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Fudan University in Shanghai. "But in Chinese traditional culture, we have a saying: 'a woman without talent is virtuous'." While female Chinese business leaders are common, he said, women barely appear at the highest levels of the country's political elite – only two rank among its 25 top officials.

Yet Li, the fan club founder, has more pressing concerns – namely, whether Peng will sing for Obama. "We hope that some time, Mama Peng will come out to sing for the public," she said. "We'd like to meet [her] someday."













上海复旦大学国际关系学院的教授沈丁立说:“在美国,女性在政治上和男性享有同等的权利。但是在中国的传统文化中却有句名言 '女子无才便是德'。尽管有很多成功的中国女商人,但是在中国政坛的最高领导层上,几乎没有女性。25位最高官员中,只有2名女性。”


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