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In China, Michelle Obama Praises US Progress on Civil, Religious Rights

  • VOA News

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) sits in for an English class with students at Chengdu No. 7 High School during her visit in Chengdu, Sichuan province, March 25, 2014.

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) sits in for an English class with students at Chengdu No. 7 High School during her visit in Chengdu, Sichuan province, March 25, 2014.

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama touted America's progress on ethnic equality, civil rights and religious freedom as she continued her tour of China.

Obama made the comments Tuesday during a speech to Chinese students at a prestigious high school in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

She said that in America, hard-working people can succeed "no matter where you live or how much your parents have...or what race, religion, or ethnicity you are."

The first lady has largely avoided controversial political issues during her week-long trip, instead focusing on topics such as education.

One exception was Saturday, when she told a group of Chinese and American students that freedom of religion and access to information were "universal human rights."

China is among the most repressive nations in the world concerning free speech, cracking down on dissent, blocking many news and online sites, and censoring Internet news that Beijing considers objectionable.

The U.S. also routinely criticizes China for its treatment of Tibetans and Uighur Muslims, who complain of government persecution and restrictions on their religious practices.

Obama, who is traveling with her two daughters and mother, last week met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. She has also visited popular tourists sites, such as the Great Wall of China and the former Imperial Palace.

She is set to depart for Washington on Wednesday.

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