U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama is in China for a week-long visit that includes stops in Beijing and Chengdu. Part of her trip will be accompanied by Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan. Chinese media described this visit as “gentle diplomacy” and a chance to improve Sino-U.S. ties. Mrs. Obama is expected to make stops at the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors Museum, and the Chengdu Panda Base. The visit comes with a number of issues testing China-U.S. ties, such as the South China Sea dispute. However, the White House has stressed that Mrs. Obama’s trip will be “non-political.” She will focus on cultural exchange and avoid sensitive topics such as human rights and cyber security. Mrs. Obama’s visit has promoted discussion in Chinese media. Her agenda for the visit sends the message that the relationship between the U.S. and China is not just between leaders, but between peoples. Ni Feng, from Chinese Academy of Social Science told China Daily that the interaction between the first ladies could diversify the style of leadership contacts between Beijing and Washington and prove the importance of “maintaining stable bilateral ties and resolving disagreements.”
(Daily Mail, Xinhua News, BBC, March 20)