The Obama ladies are in the house — the house of China, that is.
First lady Michelle Obama, her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, and her mother touched down Thursday in China for what’s being touted as a weeklong feel-good tourist event, amid increasing murmurs back home about U.S. taxpayers having to foot the bill.
Mrs. Obama is supposed to use her visit for soft diplomacy only, and shy from the more controversial topics that plague U.S.-China relations, namely human rights and economics. No reporters accompanied the family on the trip.
“The nature of her visit is really quite different,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters ahead of the trip. “What the first lady really brings is the power of her own story, the power of American values.”
The White House also announced that Mrs. Obama wouldn’t field any questions from journalists she encountered in Beijing, which rankled some members of the press and the private sector, given her trip — complete with an entourage of about 70 — was still being paid for with tax dollars.
Mrs. Obama is due to meet with her Chinese counterpart, first lady Peng Liyuan, on Friday. Her travel mates will also head with her to the western historic city of Xi’an and the southern community of Chengdu, the latter of which is home to the nation’s famed panda bear reserves.