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Many think Mr. Xi’s move is based on the urging of his wife, Peng Liyuan, China’s glamorous first lady and a true believer in the PLA mission. She is the most senior military entertainer in the nation.

Ms. Peng, 50, an accomplished soprano and folk singer, is the superintendent of the PLA’s Academy of Arts, the primary training ground for military entertainers.

Miles Yu’s column appears Fridays. He can be reached at and @yu_miles.