News / Asia

    Michelle Obama Generates Internet Comment After Tibetan Lunch

    U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, her daughters Sasha, Malia, and mother Marian Robinson are greeted with a Khata scarf by Tibetan students as they arrive to a Tibetan restaurant for lunch in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province, March 26, 2014.
    U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, her daughters Sasha, Malia, and mother Marian Robinson are greeted with a Khata scarf by Tibetan students as they arrive to a Tibetan restaurant for lunch in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province, March 26, 2014.
    Reuters
    U.S. first lady Michelle Obama lunched at a Tibetan restaurant in China's Sichuan province on Wednesday, prompting murmurs about “political overtones” on the country's active Internet social networks.
     
    Obama, her two daughters and mother visited the city of Chengdu as part of a week-long trip to China, where she has sought to promote education and boost cultural ties.
     
    China has criticized the White House for its support for exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, denounced by Beijing as a separatist “wolf in sheep's clothing”.
     
    A senior administration official who accompanied Obama said the first lady simply wanted to meet Tibetans in Chengdu.
     
    “Tibetans are an important minority group, and there is a sizeable Tibetan community in Sichuan,” the official said last weekend.
     
    The restaurant was chosen because of the first lady's interest in the rights of minorities in China, a member of Obama's staff said, according to a pool report.
     
    President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama in February, a meeting denounced by Beijing as interference in its internal affairs.
     
    Obama said he did not support Tibetan independence from China and the Dalai Lama has always denied seeking it, the White House said in a statement at the time.
     
    Internet users saw the lunch as a thinly veiled message.
     
    “This carries strong political overtones, meant to communicate that the U.S. is paying close attention to politics in Tibet,” one user wrote. “When it's plain that the aim is to dictate to China, can you still say that the U.S. first lady's trip is just innocent travel?”
     
    Another user said the political implications were impossible to miss. “This was done for Chinese people to see, and also for the U.S. Congress to see,” he wrote.
     
    Protests against what Tibetans say are heavy-handed government policies putting pressure on their culture and Buddhist faith have periodically boiled over into self-immolations by activists.
     
    Nearly half the self-immolations have occurred in Sichuan, lying east of Tibet.
     
    China denies maltreatment of Tibetans, saying it has lifted the province out of poverty and extended considerable autonomy.
     
    Michelle Obama spun a row of prayer wheels as she walked the entry bridge to the restaurant, according to the pool report. A group of Tibetan students gave the family ceremonial white scarves - symbolizing purty in Tibetan culture.
     
    The Obamas were served traditional foods, including yak meat pie, boiled yak ribs, bread made with barley and yak butter tea.
     
    Earlier on Wednesday, Obama and her family visited a reserve for about 80 giant pandas. China has often sent pandas to other countries as a means to strengthen diplomatic relations.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Wangchuk from: NY
    March 26, 2014 9:51 AM
    I'm glad the FLOTUS enjoyed Tibetan food and expressed an interest in minority rights in PRC. But this trip was approved by CCP to showcase how "happy" Tibetans allegedly are & was carefully controlled & vetted by CCP. BTW, if this visit was a political statement why did the CCP permit it? Is the CCP so stupid they can't see a political move when it happens? Chinese chauvinists don't like the US dictating to China but think nothing of dictating & oppressing Tibetans. The arrogance of Chinese chauvinists is appalling.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.