PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 June, 2013, 10:54am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 June, 2013, 3:04pm

Peng Liyuan snapped using an iPhone despite China's war of words with Apple

First Lady pictured months after China’s CCTV and People’s Daily attacked Apple for allegedly providing Chinese users with an inferior service


Amy Li began her journalism career as a crime news reporter in Queens, New York, in 2004. She joined Reuters in Beijing in 2008 as a multimedia editor. Amy taught journalism at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu before joining SCMP in Hong Kong in 2012. She is now an online news editor for Amy can be reached at, or follow her on Twitter @AmyLiSCMP

China’s first lady is apparently an iPhone user.

Peng Liyuan has been snapped using a device just months after China’s CCTV and the People’s Daily attacked Apple for allegedly providing Chinese users with an inferior after-sales service, and vowing to destroy its “unparalleled arrogance”.

In an Associated Press photo, Peng is seen snapping a picture with what looks like a white iPhone 5. The photo was taken when Peng and Chinese President Xi Jinping were watching a folk dance presentation near the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Southern Mexico on Thursday, according to AP.

On Weibo, Peng's iPhone photo triggered heated discussions.

"Why isn't she using a Chinese brand phone just like how she supports Chinese brand clothes?" many asked.

Others worry the security implications of China's first lady using an Apple device.

"Does it mean she can be tracked through Global Positioning Systems?," one micro-blogger wrote.

Mexican media has called Peng "China's Michelle Obama" prior to her appearance in Mexico. In fact, the singer-turned-first lady has inspired quite a fashion frenzy in China ever since her first international tour to Russia with her husband in March.

A boom in demand for home-grown labels began after eagle-eyed net users quickly identified Peng’s handbags and coats as items from a Guangzhou-based label named “Exception“, one of  China's leading independent labels.

In  a recent interview with Chinese media, Ma Ke, the founder and chief executive of Exception, said the clothes she designed for Peng embodied the “values and beliefs of the nation".

Ma said when she first met Peng in 2002 in Guangzhou, Peng told her she had been wearing her labels since 1999.

The two women soon discovered they had much in common and became friends, Ma recalled.

“She is enthusiastic about charities and environmental causes,” she said. “And I am passionate about music.” Ma said she believed the common values and beliefs she shared with Peng had led to the first lady’s confidence in her designs.

“She’s a down-to-earth person with a strong sense of national identity,” Ma said.