Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 125–136 | Cite as

“First Lady Diplomacy” and the construction of national image

  • Ning Wang
Original Article


This paper compares the Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan and her American counterpart Michelle Obama with respect to their public diplomatic effects on building a favourable national image. An analysis of the global media’s reporting frames of their diplomatic activities shows that both first ladies contribute to create an overall favourable national image. Although their contribution is greatly limited to the dimensions of national culture and citizenship, where First Lady Diplomacy usually plays a role, they did make several breakthroughs in the political areas, such as improving bilateral relations. Michelle Obama’s solo visit to China attracted more attention and presented more of a national image but received negative comments regarding political issues such as human rights and freedom of speech; the Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan excelled by winning more favourable attitudes from the targeted countries.


First Lady Diplomacy China America Country image Media framing 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of International Relations and Public AffairsShanghai International Studies UniversityShanghaiChina

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