"Tiger mother" Wendi Deng was the toast of China's huge online community Wednesday as images of her leaping to the defence of her 80-year-old husband Rupert Murdoch were splashed across the Internet.

One online survey even found the striking Chinese-born American's actions had made many of China's 485 million web users believe in love all over again.

Deng, who is 38 years younger than Murdoch, was described as a "guardian angel" after her haymaker on a pie-wielding protester during a British parliamentary hearing on the News of the World hacking scandal on Tuesday.

Footage of the 42-year-old -- in a bright pink jacket and pencil skirt -- clouting her husband's attacker drew nearly 430,000 hits on Youku, China's version of YouTube, and was the top international story on news websites such as Sina.com

"She's not only a tiger mother but also his guardian angel," one web user wrote on Sina's Weibo, a popular Twitter-like service.

Other netizens said Deng "should be praised for protecting her husband" and that her lightning reactions would "boost the positive image of Murdoch" as well as "improve the image of Asian women in Western eyes".

A survey by Sina showed 46.1 percent of an undisclosed number of respondents believed in love again after Deng jumped to her husband's aid, while 30 percent said her actions had changed their attitude towards her.

But some postings derided her as a gold digger, saying she was a prime example of a "strong and strategic... Cinderella". Others suggested she had even staged the entire incident.

At the hearing -- a day her husband called the most humble in his life -- Deng sat directly behind the News Corp. chairman and chief executive as he faced a three-hour grilling by British lawmakers on the phone-hacking scandal.

When the scruffily dressed man tried to slap Murdoch in the face with the plate of foam, Deng sprang into action, clobbering him on the head and managing to push the gunk into the assailant's face.