Michelle Obama arrives in China on hotly anticipated trip

BEIJING Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:40pm IST

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) waves as she walks out the plane with her daughters Sasha (2nd R) and Malia (R) upon their arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, March 20, 2014. REUTERS/China Daily

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) waves as she walks out the plane with her daughters Sasha (2nd R) and Malia (R) upon their arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, March 20, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/China Daily

Related Topics

BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. first lady Michelle Obama arrived in Beijing on Thursday evening, the official Xinhua news agency said, beginning a hotly anticipated week-long trip during which she will promote education and cultural ties.

Obama, a Harvard-educated lawyer, is expected to spend Friday with China's charismatic first lady, Peng Liyuan, who is admired at home as both a glamorous songstress and fashion icon.

Besides Beijing, Obama will visit the western historic city of Xi'an and the southern city of Chengdu, where she will visit a panda preserve. Obama's two daughters are accompanying her, as well as her mother.

She also plans to visit American and Chinese students to promote education and cultural exchanges, and visit historical landmarks like the Great Wall of China.

A Xinhua commentary said the trip was "especially meaningful" given tensions in the U.S.-China relationship, including President Barack Obama's recent meeting with the Dalai Lama, whom China sees as a violent separatist.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the visit would help deepen ties between the world's two largest economies.

"We believe that this visit will play an important role in increasing mutual understanding between the two countries and expanding friendship," Hong told reporters ahead of Obama's arrival.

Obama is expected to focus on education during her trip, foregoing mention of thornier issues such as trade and human rights - an approach the Xinhua commentary said it agreed with.

"The uniqueness of the role of first ladies is its soft touch and freedom from the knottiness, and even ugliness, of hard politics," the commentary said.

Still, many internet users have already begun criticising Obama for planning to lunch at a Tibetan restaurant in Chengdu - a tacit sign, some said, of U.S. support for the Dalai Lama.

Former U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton criticised China's human rights record during her husband's presidency.

News of Obama's arrival spread fast on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like microblog, where users speculated on what the trip would bring - as well as what Obama would wear and eat.

"Two intellectual women playing the game of great power politics - how beautiful," wrote one user.

(Reporting By Megha Rajagopalan, Ben Blanchard and Li Hui; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Gaza

REUTERS SHOWCASE

War Crimes

War Crimes

Islamic State commits war crimes, Syrian govt using poison gas - UN.  Full Article 

Tutu's Advice

Tutu's Advice

South Africa's Archbishop Tutu urges Dutch pension fund to divest from Israeli banks.  Full Article 

Nuclear Deal

Nuclear Deal

Deadline passed, no sign of breakthrough in Iran nuclear probe.  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Breakthrough hopes dented as Ukraine accuses Russia of new incursion.  Full Article 

Turkey Politics

Turkey Politics

President-elect Erdogan heralds "new Turkey" in last party speech.  Full Article 

Military Rule

Military Rule

Thai premier tells foreign investors: 'We are not dictators'.  Full Article 

Ebola Deaths

Ebola Deaths

Liberia police fire on protesters as W.Africa's Ebola toll hits 1,350.  Full Article 

Pakistan Protests

Pakistan Protests

Pakistan's prime minister resolved to ride out protests crisis.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage