China’s de facto first lady, famed military singer Peng Liyuan, seems to have gone out of her way to keep a low profile since her husband Xi Jinping was anointed as the Communist Party’s top leader at its 18th National Congress last November.
But as Xi pushes forward a high-profile campaign to rid the Party and military ranks of corruption and waste, Peng found herself in the news again as a model Party member more than ready to answer her husband’s marching orders.
Cai Xiaoxin, a military researcher who has a verified real-name account on China’s social media platform Weibo, wrote on Wednesday that Peng had voluntarily given a flat she owned back to her military unit. According to Cai, the flat was in a military compound in west Beijing, that had been awarded to Peng many years ago.
Free or heavily-subsidised housing is among the most coveted perks Party, government and military officials can receive, especially amid soaring property prices across the country in recent years.
“She sets a good example in answering Chairman Xi’s orders to tighten up military discipline and fight against corrupt practices,” Cai wrote, referring to Xi’s position as the head of the Central Military Commission.
Ironically, Cai's post disappeared from his Weibo page hours after it was published. The original post did not give more details about Peng’s generous gesture, and Cai has yet to reply to a request sent to him via Weibo for an interview.
Peng, 51, has been a household name in China since the early 1980s, a soprano well loved for her lusty rendering of Chinese folk songs.
She married Xi in 1987, and is now the president of the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Arts, with a rank equivalent to a major general.