First lady Michelle Obama intends to shy away from divisive issues like human rights and trade during her upcoming trip to China, instead focusing on educational programs and cultural exchanges.
The first lady and her daughters, Malia and Sasha, will depart Wednesday for a weeklong trip that will see the Obama women meet with students and visit tourist attractions, including the terra-cotta warriors and a panda nursery.
President Obama will not join his family on the trip, which administration officials hope can demonstrate the power of soft diplomacy.
“The nature of her visit is really quite different,” said deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. “What the first lady really brings is the power of her own story, the power of American values.”
Rhodes described the visit as a “critical opportunity to continue to build connections with the Chinese leadership and also the Chinese public,” noting that the first lady would meet both with Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan and ordinary students across the Chinese countryside.