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First couple on Time's list of most influential

(China Daily)

09:43, April 20, 2013

President Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan made the list of the world's 100 most influential people published by Time magazine on Friday, adding to China's global prestige.

Observers said the appearance of the couple on the list reflects global affirmation and expectations of China.

Tennis player Li Na, 31, is also on the list as the first Asian woman to win a Grand Slam title.

Xi is listed in the Leaders category along with US President Barack Obama, while Peng is in the Icons category with US first lady Michelle Obama and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger wrote in a Time profile of Xi: “As China embarks on a period of renewal, the role of Xi Jinping, its new president, is central. Xi is convinced his generation's hardships gave it the strength to face the challenges of adapting China to the consequences of its success.”

Xi has put forward a sweeping reform program designed to move millions to the cities, streamline bureaucracy, reorient the economy away from State-owned enterprises and fight corruption, Kissinger said.

“In foreign policy he has posed a key question: Can two great, partially competitive countries substitute cooperation for conflict? The answers of both sides will determine the world's future,” Kissinger said.

Based on his meetings with Xi, Kissinger thinks the Chinese leader's response will be both thoughtful and forceful.

Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher on international affairs at the China Institute of International Studies, said listing Xi and Peng shows that the world has paid more attention to China because of its rapid development.

“Xi will lead China to further develop and overcome existing problems in the next five years, wielding influence not only over China but also over the whole world as China's economy becomes stronger and better connected to other countries,” Jia said.

Peng's debut during Xi's first overseas visit as president in March marked a new departure, with leaders' wives staying out of the spotlight in the past. “Her affinity will win China a better image, ” Jia said.

Wang Yizhou, a professor on international affairs with Peking University, said Peng represents “an energetic and amiable symbol” of Chinese women.

“The world will want to know more about the Chinese first lady, and Chinese people also hope to send goodwill to the world through her,” Wang said.

Unsurprisingly, Obama makes his eighth appearance on the annual list of the 100 top global leaders, titans, artists, pioneers and icons, along with newly installed Pope Francis, singer Beyonce, pop star Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun and basketball player Le Bron James.

In the international field, leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un, Philippine President Benigno Aquino and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi are among those making the list.

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