– Shifting the US-China focus –
While his wife is visiting China, President Obama will take up the gamut of US-China relations in a meeting with counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of next week’s nuclear security summit in The Netherlands.
Michelle Obama will meet in Beijing with Xi’s wife, the singer Peng Liyuan. The US first lady caused a minor stir in June when she did not go to a California desert resort to mingle with Peng over a weekend intended to build a relationship between the two presidents.
In Beijing, Peng will guide Michelle Obama through Beijing’s Forbidden City and welcome her with a dinner and performance, the White House said. The Obamas will also tour the Great Wall, the ancient city of Xian and the southwestern city of Chengdu, near the habitat of pandas, China’s emblematic animal.
Michelle Obama will deliver speeches on educational cooperation. China is the largest source of foreign students to US universities and a growing number of US students have studied Mandarin — including the Obamas’ eldest daughter, 15-year-old Malia.
Philip J. Crowley, a former State Department spokesman, said that Michelle Obama’s trip can help reframe the US-China relationship away from just the countries’ disagreements.
“These differences are real and important. But there are also many areas where the countries’ interests overlap and they deserve attention as well,” said Crowley, now a professor at George Washington University.
Michelle Obama has enjoyed consistently higher popularity ratings than her husband and has mostly stayed away from controversial topics, instead leading a campaign to encourage Americans to eat better and exercise.