China’s First Lady Serenaded Tiananmen Troops

AP has confirmed the authenticity of a photo distributed online showing First Lady Peng Liyuan serenading People’s Liberation Army troops in Tiananmen Square after the crackdown on protesters in June 1989. CDT posted the photo on Tuesday. From Gillian Wong’s report:

The image of Peng in a green military uniform, her windswept hair tied back in a ponytail as she sings to helmeted and rifle-bearing troops seated in rows on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, contrasts with her appearances this week in trendy suits and coiffed hair while touring Russia and Africa with Xi, waving to her enthusiastic hosts.

“I think that we have a lot of people hoping that because Xi Jinping walks around without a tie on and his wife is a singer who travels with him on trips that maybe we’re dealing with a new kind of leader, but I think these images remind people that this is the same party,” said Kelley Currie, a China human rights expert for the pro-democracy Project 2049 Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

“It’s using some new tools and new techniques, for the same purposes: to preserve its own power.”


“The photo probably has a negative impact more so internationally than domestically,” said Joseph Cheng, a political scientist at City University of Hong Kong. He said more scrutiny of Peng is likely and such images could raise questions about Xi’s interest in reforms.


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