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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid