News / USA

US First Lady Employs 'Soft' Diplomacy During China Visit

US First Lady Employs 'Soft' Diplomacy During China Visiti
X
March 24, 2014 5:39 PM
First Lady Michelle Obama and her family spent the weekend visiting some of Beijing's key tourist attractions. She also delivered a speech to students at Peking University and attended a roundtable discussion on education. VOA's Bill Ide spoke with Beijing residents about their impressions of the trip, and the wide-ranging online discussions sparked by her travels.
US First Lady Employs 'Soft' Diplomacy During China Visit
William Ide
First lady Michelle Obama's visits to tourist sites, meetings with students and time spent with China’s first lady have largely focused on so-called "soft diplomacy." Education, culture, and even lighthearted talk of a fashion showdown with China’s first lady Peng Liyuan have stirred discussion online.

On social media sites, many speculated about the high cost of her hotel room in Beijing and the extravagance of the trip.
 
But on the streets in Beijing most welcomed the visit and cultural exchanges.
 
"The purpose and goal of her trip is more meaningful than the cost," said one woman. "This is more than just interaction between two families, it's an exchange between two countries and having the first ladies interact has a deeper meaning and helps lift ties in many different ways."

In an address at Peking University Saturday, Mrs. Obama spoke about the importance of free speech as well as education. The comments were circulated widely online.

  • U.S. first lady Michelle Obama practices tai chi with students at Chengdu No.7 High School in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province, March 25, 2014.
  • U.S. first lady Michelle Obama looks at a terracotta warrior as she visits Qinshihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum with her daughters, Malia and Sasha, and her mother, Marian Shields Robinson, in Xi'an, March 24, 2014.
  • U.S. first lady Michelle Obama walks with her daughters Malia and Sasha as they visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, March 23, 2014.
  • U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaks next to U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus as they attend a round table discussion on education at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, March 23, 2014.
  • U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, followed by her daughters Malia and Sasha, is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan at the Diaoyutai State guest house in Beijing, March 21, 2014.
  • Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, shows U.S. first lady Michelle Obama how to hold a writing brush as they visit a Chinese traditional calligraphy class at the Beijing Normal School, March 21, 2014.
  • U.S. first lady Michelle Obama plays table tennis at the Beijing Normal School, a school that prepares students to attend colleges overseas, March 21, 2014.
  • U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, her daughters Sasha and Malia and her mother Marian Robinson pose with Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, as they visit Forbidden City in Beijing, March 21, 2014.

China and the United States face many barriers in their relationship and the visit is hoped to boost ties. However, in Beijing, some say it is unclear just how far the trip could go to helping address the complex challenges the two countries face.
 
"It will help some, but I don't think the trip will have a big impact," said one Chinese man. "Relations between countries are nothing like ties between families, there are all kinds of interests there. It's complicated."
 
"There are a lot of basic differences," said another woman, "the political system, the two countries state of economic development. Everything is different, even the way we think. China is very traditional."

But although some saw culture as an obstacle, others see the trip as building understanding between two nations that remain wary of each other.
 
"As long as both sides fear each other there will be mistrust, and that's really unnecessary," said one man.
 
On Monday, Mrs. Obama visited the museum of the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, one of China's top tourist attractions. After Xi'an, Mrs. Obama and her daughters travel to Chengdu before wrapping up their visit.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: a buddist from: east
March 24, 2014 9:53 PM
Chinese people are very hospitable, of couse, Mrs obama is receiving a warm welcome! even her husband had done a lot of things that hurt the feelings of chinese people. just as someone put it, "I don't think the trip will have a big impact on the relation between the contries." but come china is better than not come. the trip will absolutly is helpful to building understanding of two nations.
In Response

by: Wangchuk from: NY
March 26, 2014 9:57 AM
What you really mean is Pres. Obama said things that hurt the feelings of the CCP, not the Chinese people. The Chinese people want human rights and democratic reforms. They don't want a one-party dictatorship. They don't want corruption & censorshiop. And what about the feelings of Tibetans & Uighurs who don't want to be oppressed or live under coloniallism? Why do you discount the feelings of Tibetans & Uighurs?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs