Peng Liyuan, China’s new first lady, is glamorous, fashionable and one of her nation’s best known ­singers, a startling contrast to her dour-looking predecessors. As she accompanies her husband, President Xi Jinping, on his first trip abroad as China’s leader, Peng appears ready to carve out a new role for herself.

China’s fashion editors were scrutinizing the first sightings of her wardrobe — a dark trench coat and a handsome handbag — as she descended onto the tarmac at the Moscow airport on the first stop of the couple’s trip, which also includes visits to Tanzania and South Africa.

Music aficionados are waiting to see whether she offers any performances. (Unlikely.) Policy advisers hope she gives a speech on AIDS on the sidelines of a summit meeting Xi is attending in South Africa. (Possible, as she is a United Nations ambassador for health.)

At a time when China’s Foreign Ministry is struggling to improve China’s international image, Peng, 50, who has dazzled audiences at home and abroad with her bravura soprano voice, comes as a welcome gift. It could be that Peng’s star power will push the diplomats into the background.

Some see her as a figure akin to Raisa Gorbachev, wife of Mikhail Gorbachev, who helped humanize the Soviet leader as the Soviet Union fell apart. Others see her as roughly equivalent to Michelle Obama: modern, outgoing, intrigued by fashion. They await the moment when Peng and Obama stand with their husbands at a state visit, either in Washington or Beijing, a lineup that is likely to happen in the next four years. Xi and Peng have one daughter, Xi Mingze, who is a Harvard undergraduate registered under a pseudonym.

new york times


MIA curator is going to D.C. museum

Joe Horse Capture, the first American Indian curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, is leaving for a new “Museum Specialist” post at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., starting May 20. During 15 years in Minneapolis, he expanded a token collection of American Indian art into a key attraction that includes spectacular Plains Indian painted-hide garments, beadwork, Southwest pottery and a contemporary totem by the late George Morrison, a Minnesota Ojibwe. “This is just an opportunity that I can’t pass up,” said Horse Capture, a member of the A’anin or Gros Ventre tribe. “I’m transferring from an art museum to … a place where Native Americans really come first. That’s a totally different approach.”

Mary abbe