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US First Lady Heads to China Wednesday

  • VOA News

FILE - U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaks in Washington D.C., March 14, 2014.

FILE - U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaks in Washington D.C., March 14, 2014.

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama travels to China Wednesday for a weeklong tour with her mother and daughters.

White House officials say Obama's trip will focus on education and will steer clear of more contentious issues between the United States and China, such as human rights and trade.

White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said Monday that disagreements between the two countries are addressed in direct contacts between the governments.

He said, "We don't think the first lady should make this a focus at all of her trip."

Obama is scheduled to visit Peking University as well as a high school in the southwestern city of Chengdu. Also on her agenda is a day with her Chinese counterpart, Peng Liyuan, the wife of President Xi Jinping.

The two had been expected to meet last June when their husbands held a summit in California, but Michelle Obama stayed behind in Washington.

The first lady, along with her mother and two daughters, will also do some sightseeing during their travels, including visits to the Great Wall of China, the famed Terra Cotta Warriors and a panda preserve.

Both of Obama's predecessors have addressed contentious matters while visiting China.

During a 2008 trip, Laura Bush urged China to put more pressure on the military government of Burma (also known at Myanmar). And in 1995, Hillary Clinton attended the United Nations Women's Conference in Beijing and gave a high-profile speech urging China to improve its human rights record.