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A diplomatic star is born as Chinese first lady dazzles on first foreign tour

Thomas Mukoya / Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping and First Lady Peng Liyuan bid farewell as they board their plane to depart from the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March 25, 2013.

Ivan Sekretarev / AP

Glamorous first lady Peng Liyuan has emerged as a Chinese diplomatic star, charming audiences and cutting a distinct profile from her all-but-invisible predecessors on her debut official trip abroad.

Peng was featured prominently in Chinese media coverage of her husband President Xi Jinping's state visit to Russia, the start of a trip that has also seen stops in Tanzania and South Africa.

Much of the coverage focused on her personal style, with a report on the mass-market sina.com website noting with satisfaction that the black leather clutch she paired with one outfit was made to order by a Chinese firm in the southwestern city of Chengdu, a flattering contrast with prominent Chinese female politicians scorned publicly for appearing decked head to toe in foreign designer brands.

-- The Associated Press

Thomas Mukoya / Reuters

Peng Liyuan looks at a traditional Tanzanian entertainer during the welcoming ceremony upon her arrival in Dar es Salaam on March 24, 2013.

EPA

Peng Liyuan observes a moment of silence during a visit to Gongo la Mboto cemetery, where Chinese workers who died while constructing a railway are buried, on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam on March 25, 2013.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma shares a joke with Peng Liyuan during an official lunch hosted by Zuma and his wife in Pretoria on March 26, 2013.

Glamorous and stylish, Peng Liyuan, China's First Lady, has been projecting a newly fashionable face of the Communist regime as she accompanies her husband, the new Chinese President Xi Jinping, on a tour of Russia and Africa – Channel Four's  Lindsey Hilsum reports.

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