China's first lady, Peng Liyuan , has been ranked one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes magazine in an annual list of 100 dominated by politicians, businesswomen and media figures.
Peng, one of the eight Chinese women on the list, is ranked 54th in her first appearance on the list.
German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel topped the ranking for the third year in a row, while Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff replaced former US secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in second spot.
Other Chinese women on the list were: Taiwan-based HTC chairwoman Cher Wang, the founder of Hong Kong-listed mainland developer Longfor Properties Wu Yajun, SOHO China chief executive Zhang Xin , Huawei Technologies chairwoman Sun Yafang , World Health Organisation director general Dr Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, Baidu chief financial officer Jennifer Li Xinzhe and Yang Lan , the co-founder and chairwoman of Sun Media Group.
Peng and her husband, President Xi Jinping , were also rated the world's fifth most powerful couple on a list of 15, with US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama at the top.
Forbes said Peng was "China's most public first lady … the stylish second wife of newly installed Chinese President Xi Jinping" and "a former superstar folk singer", adding that before Xi was anointed, it was often joked that she was more famous than her husband: "'Who is Xi Jinping? He is Peng Liyuan's husband'."
The magazine said Peng made her debut on the international stage in March when she accompanied her husband on his first presidential trip abroad, to Russia and Africa, and was credited with humanising the Communist regime.
"But now it is too early to make a conclusion that Peng will bring any political impact to China's future development although she is the country's first lady," Zhang Lifan , a Beijing-based historian, said yesterday. "Communist China has not built up a culture of having a first lady. So there is no evidence to show the public whether Peng has successfully transferred from being a singer to a first lady."
Professor Zhang Ming , a political scientist at Beijing's Renmin University, said Peng was ranked by Forbes for one simple reason: "She is the wife of China's most powerful man."
Peng is a member of China's Public Diplomacy Association, which seeks to polish Beijing's image abroad through "soft power". She is also a UN ambassador for health and a goodwill ambassador for the WHO.