Michelle Obama Promotes Free Speech in China

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama visited Peking University Saturday on her whirlwind  tour through China.  
 
On her second day in China, first lady Michelle Obama spoke to American and Chinese students at the country's prestigious Peking University. She emphasized the importance of education and human rights -- including the right to free speech. 
 
"Time and again we have seen that countries are stronger and more prosperous when the voices and opinions of all their citizens can be heard," he said.  
 
Hillary Clinton's criticism of China was much more direct when she visited as first lady. Mrs. Obama's trip will steer clear of sensitive political issues, and she will not grant interviews to journalists. Instead, her aides say her time in China will be an exercise in soft diplomacy and in people-to-people connections.

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, her mother Marian Robinson (left), share a light moment with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and his wife Peng Liyuan (right) after a photograph session at the Diaoyutai State guest house in Beijing on March 21, 2014. /Reuters U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, her mother Marian Robinson (left), share a light moment with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and his wife Peng Liyuan (right) after a photograph session at the Diaoyutai State guest house in Beijing on March 21, 2014. /Reuters

On Friday, Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan accompanied Mrs. Obama and her two daughters to a Chinese school where they took a calligraphy class and played a game of ping pong. The two first ladies also toured the Forbidden City.  
 
Chinese President Xi Jinping also greeted Mrs. Obama Friday night, and said he was looking forward to seeing President Barack Obama during an upcoming trip to the Netherlands.  
 
Mrs. Obama is using the Beijing portion of her trip to China to emphasize the importance of education and studying abroad.  
 
"Study abroad isn't just a fun way to spend a semester. It is quickly becoming the key to success in our global economy," she said.

Two hundred thousand Chinese students study in the United States, and 20,000 Americans study in China every year.  
 
Before her visit to China, Mrs. Obama wrote in a blog post, "I'll be talking with students about their lives in China and telling them about America and the values and traditions we hold dear."
 
Mrs. Obama will next travel to Xian to see the terra cotta warriors and to Chengdu to tour the Chengdu Panda Base, which has about 50 pandas.

VOA News / Mar. 24, 2014 08:09 KST