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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More