PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 1:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Forbes lists China's First Lady Peng Liyuan among world's 100 most powerful women


Patrick Boehler has published on China and Southeast Asia in four languages for publications in the US, Europe and Asia. After stints with Austria's ministries of defence and foreign affairs in Vienna and Beijing, he began his reporting career in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian online news portal Malaysiakini and, later, The Irrawaddy Magazine, a Myanmar exile publication in Thailand. He holds a doctorate in political science and has taught journalism at the University of Hong Kong. Follow him on Twitter: @mrbaopanrui

China's First Lady Peng Liyuan has made it onto Forbes' list of the world's most powerful women, a feat her predecessors have never achieved, but remains overshadowed by her entrepreneurial compatriots.

Peng jumped from nil to No 54 in the rankings published on Wednesday after accompanying President Xi Jinping on his maiden trip as head of state through Africa in March. She was showered with praise as an unprecedentedly confident Chinese first lady.

The 50-year-old major general in the People's Liberation Army previously gained prominence as a singer of patriotic songs at New Year's galas and as an Aids activist.

Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, the first female director-general of the World Health Organisation and Hong Kong's former health director, tops the list among Chinese women. She advanced to No 33, from 37 last year.

Peng ranks lower than two Chinese business magnates: six spots behind Chongqing-born real estate tycoon Wu Yajun, who last year was named China's richest woman and eighth richest person; and four places behind Zhang Xin, chief executive of Soho China, a high-profile real estate developer in Beijing.

Sun Yafang, chairwoman at Huawei Technologies, a maker of telecommunications equipment, ranked No 77. Last year she was at 91.

Jennifer Li, chief financial officer of the search engine Baidu, and Lan Yang, co-owner of the Sun Media Group, also made it to the list. 

Hong Kong's most powerful woman, according to Forbes, is Solina Chau Hoi-suen, director of the Li Ka Shing Foundation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel remains at the top of the Forbes list, followed by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Only one other first lady made the list. America's Michelle Obama ranked fourth. 


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