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First lady turns on the charm, impresses hosts

(China Daily)

08:33, June 05, 2013

First lady Peng Liyuan joins in during a visit to Trinidad and Tobago's national performing arts center at the capital, Port of Spain, on Sunday. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

Not many first ladies are greeted by their own signature tunes when they travel abroad. But Peng Liyuan, the wife of President Xi Jinping, is an exception.

Over the weekend, when Xi was in Trinidad and Tobago as the first Chinese leader to visit the Caribbean country, a steel band played two of Peng's signature songs at the national performing arts center in the capital city, Port of Spain. Peng, a well-known Chinese folk singer, quickly joined in the local band and accompanied them on the drums.

One song was In the Field of Hope, written in the 1980s by Chen Xiaoguang, the former vice-minister of culture. The song is about the changes in Chinese villages and how happy the farmers were to be working the fields since the Chinese economic reforms of the late 1970s.

The other song was My Lovely Hometown. The song is from a famous Chinese movie from 1961, Red Sun, about an army unit during China's War of Liberation (1946-49). The song was also played in outer space, when China's first lunar probe satellite Chang'e-1 was launched in December 2007.

Peng told the local band that a steel band from Trinidad and Tobago visited China about 30 years ago, and their performances had impressed many Chinese audiences. She welcomed the band to perform in China in the future, and said she wishes the friendship between the two countries to be as smooth and beautiful as the melodies, Chinese media reported.

The Chinese first lady impressed the Caribbean country not just with her music, but also her kindness and language capability.

"She's a very beautiful person, very warm, and to chat with her in English was very wonderful," Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said after meeting Peng, AFP reported.

During her stay in Trinidad and Tobago, Peng also met some representatives of local middle school students, and brought gifts when she visited an association for children with intellectual disabilities on Saturday, which was International Children's Day.

Zhou Jiali, a diplomatic protocol expert from China Foreign Affairs University, said Peng is sending warm and positive energy through these events on her overseas trip.

"The events in Trinidad and Tobago not only perfectly matched Peng's background as an artist, but also formed a closer relationship with the local people," Zhou added.

Most of the dresses Peng has worn on the trip so far are qipao, a traditional Chinese dress with Chinese cultural features.

"She wears Chinese-style dresses to attend those important international events. It shows how confident we are in our traditional culture and our attire," Zhou said.

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