- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The three Obama ladies — first lady Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha — are heading out to China this week for a few days of tourism, meetings and what’s being billed by the White House as “soft diplomacy” type talks.

“The nature of her visit is really quite different,” said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, in The Hill. “What the first lady really brings is the power of her own story, the power of American values.”

They will not talk about human rights, or about trade, The Hill reported.

They’re leaving Wednesday, and President Obama will not join them, The Hill said.

The visit is a “critical opportunity to continue to build connections with the Chinese leadership and also the Chinese public,” Mr. Rhodes said, specifying that Mrs. Obama would meet with her Chinese counterpart, first lady Peng Liyuan, The Hill reported.

The trio will also meet with various students at schools across the country, The Hill said.

“Her visit and her agenda send a message that the relationship between the United States and China is not just between leaders; it’s a relationship between peoples,” Mr. Rhodes said, in The Hill. “Her focus on people-to-people relations, her focus on education and youth empowerment is one that we believe will resonate with China.”

Among the planned stops: Beijing, the city of Xian, and Chengdu.

In Beijing, Mrs. Obama will emphasize to the students she speaks with that educational exchanges between the countries are “not only good for those individuals in their own careers, but is really vital for our competitiveness in the global economy,” said Tina Tchen, the first lady’s chief of staff, in The Hill.

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