China's First Lady Peng Liyuan woos young and old in Hong Kong

Wife of China's President Xi Jinping, Peng Liyuan (second from right), chatting with residents during her visit to an elderly care facility in Hong Kong on June 30, 2017.
Wife of China's President Xi Jinping, Peng Liyuan (second from right), chatting with residents during her visit to an elderly care facility in Hong Kong on June 30, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG - President Xi Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan is on a charm offensive in Hong Kong, chatting with elderly residents of an old folks home on Friday (June 30) and kissing pre-schoolers the day before.

Madam Peng visited the Sunshine Complex for the Elderly in Wong Chuk Hang on Friday morning. She chatted with the elderly residents at the Sunshine Complex for the Elderly. Hong Kong's Apple Daily, quoting a staff at the centre, reported that "the mood was happy and relaxed".

Accompanied by the Chief Executive's wife Regina Leung and the city's Director of Social Welfare Carol Yip, she watched the centre's residents paint and make handicrafts, and joined them in creating pop-up cards. Two residents gave her their creations as souvenirs, according to the Hong Kong government website.

Madam Peng donated some health and entertainment devices to the centre.

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She and her husband arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday for a three-day visit to attend celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China. They will also be attending the inauguration of the city's first female Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Shortly after they touched down at Hong Kong International Airport, she was whisked away to a kindergarten in upscale Kowloon Tong.

At Yau Yat Chuen School, she watched student performances and chatted with the children.

The children entertained her with a skit, conversing with her in Mandarin or Putonghua, according to video released by the government later.

In the clip, the pre-school children could be seen making paper models of dim sum, a staple of Cantonese cuisine, and introducing the various types of dumplings to her.

"I really appreciate the kindergarten's education style to achieve all-rounded development in moral, intellectual, physical, aesthetic and labour areas," the Chinese first lady said in the video.

"I feel the children are very smart. Children are the hope of our future. I wish they grow up healthily."

They presented her with a fan decorated with hand-painted pandas as a souvenir.

Madam Peng, a well-known army soprano, was also in Hong Kong in 2004 and 2007 to perform in concerts held to mark the July 1 handover anniversary. She and her husband will attend a variety show on Friday evening at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibtion Centre.

Nicknamed "The Peony Fairy", she joined the People's Liberation Army early in her career and made her name as an entertainer approved by the Communist Party, appearing frequently on state television to sing Chinese folk songs.

Observers have said that in her role as China's First Lady, Madam Peng would help make the Beijing leadership appear more accessible.