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A diplomatic star is born as Chinese first lady dazzles on first foreign tour

Glamorous first lady Peng Liyuan has emerged as a Chinese diplomatic star, charming audiences and cutting a distinct profile from her all-but-invisible predecessors on her debut official trip abroad.

Peng was featured prominently in Chinese media coverage of her husband President Xi Jinping's state visit to Russia, the start of a trip that has also seen stops in Tanzania and South Africa.

Much of the coverage focused on her personal style, with a report on the mass-market sina.com website noting with satisfaction that the black leather clutch she paired with one outfit was made to order by a Chinese firm in the southwestern city of Chengdu, a flattering contrast with prominent Chinese female politicians scorned publicly for appearing decked head to toe in foreign designer brands.

-- The Associated Press

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma shares a joke with Peng Liyuan during an official lunch hosted by Zuma and his wife in Pretoria on March 26, 2013.Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

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