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Michelle Obama, daughters, mom arrive in China

First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia and her mother, Marian Robinson, arrived in China Thursday to start a visit to Bejing and other cities.

The CNN report on the trip is HERE.

The Reuters story is HERE.

Chicago attorney Tina Tchen is Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff. She is a first-generation Chinese American. Her parents came to the U.S. in the late 1940s.

Here is some background on the trip from Tchen’s briefing last Friday:

Said Tchen: When the First Lady goes to China, she’ll be going to three very different cities. We will start in Beijing, but then also to the interior of China, to Xi’an, which is known as the — where the Terra Cotta Warriors are, one of the most ancient — in China, and then end the trip in Chengdu in the Sichuan province.

And along the way there, as Ben points out, really the overall message of this trip will be on people-to-people exchange; on the importance of cultural exchanges between our young people and the shared importance of education for young people both in China and in the United States; and how important it is for our young people to know one another, have experience with one another, and how, as Ben pointed out, that’s not only good for those individuals in their own careers, but it is really vital for the competitiveness of our U.S. global economy.

In Beijing, the First Lady will see Madame Peng, the First Lady of China, on our first day there. She will visit a school with Madame Peng and also have a private dinner with Madame Peng. On her second day in Beijing, she’ll give a speech at the Stanford Center at Peking University, where she’ll get an opportunity to meet with Chinese and American students who have studied abroad in each other’s countries and really speak to how studying abroad and how technology can be a powerful tool for cultural exchange.

In Xi’an, we’ll do a visit to the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Walled City there. But then when she goes to Chengdu, the First Lady will also have a second speech at the Number No. 7 School, which is a high school in Chengdu — be able to meet with young people there. This high school is particularly known for its technology and its reach beyond just Chengdu but out into the rural areas, and — of learning with students across the rural Sichuan provincial area. So the First Lady’s speech will be sent out to those students as well.

This is an important message across the board on the importance of education. China is the fifth most popular destination for American students studying abroad. We have about 200,000 Chinese students studying in the U.S., more than from any other country. And in the fall of 2009, President Obama announced the 100,000 Strong initiative, which is to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China. So as a result, right now we have more than 20,000 American young people studying every year in China. This includes the U.S.-China Fulbright, which was the first Fulbright program in the world in China.

And also, the First Lady will have an opportunity to acknowledge private sector involvement and those in the private sector who have stepped up, including folks like Steve Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, who has founded and has financed a scholarship program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, modeled on the Rhodes Scholarship program, which will be an important cultural exchange program for young leaders in the United States with China and around the world.

So she’ll be focusing on the power of technology — her own personal story, which we think resonates with young people around the world. As someone from a modest background — she has parents who didn’t go to college but who emphasized education always to the First Lady and her brother, encouraged them to use education as a way to succeed and move forward.

And she’ll be able to share her experience with Americans. One of the things the First Lady had wanted to do is to use these engagements overseas and when countries come here to visit as well to teach American young people about other countries. So we have a partnership with PBS LearningMedia and Discovery Education, who will be sharing the First Lady’s trip and following it along the way with their network of millions of teachers of students across the U.S. And the First Lady will be posting blogs and travel information for each step of the trip along the way on whitehouse.gov. And we encourage young people and all Americans to follow along and learn more about China through the First Lady’s trip.

Below, from the White House….

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the First Lady

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 21, 2014

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL GUIDANCE AND PRESS SCHEDULE FOR THE FIRST LADY

FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2014

Beijing, China

The First Lady will travel to China from March 19-26, 2014. She will be visiting Beijing from March 20-23, Xi’an on March 24, and Chengdu from March 25-26. Accompanying Mrs. Obama on this trip will be her mother, Mrs. Marian Robinson, and daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama.

During the trip to China, as on previous international trips to Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, the First Lady will be focusing on the power and importance of education, both in her own life and in the lives of young people in both countries.

The First Lady is encouraging students and classrooms across the U.S. to follow her trip by signing up for updates throughout the visit. View the First Lady’s message to students here.

Press Pool

Wires: AP, Reuters, Bloomberg

Wire Photos: AP, Reuters, AFP

TV: AP TV

Print: Washington Post, New York Times, McClatchy, TIME

Radio: NPR

All Times Listed are China Standard Time

Friday, March 21, 2014

Beijing, China * 9:00 AM—First Lady Michelle Obama joins First Lady Peng Liyuan at Beijing Normal School, a school that prepares students to attend Universities abroad.

Pooled press coverage

Beijing, China * 10:30 AM—First Lady Michelle Obama visits the Forbidden City with First Lady Peng Liyuan.

Pooled press coverage

Beijing, China * 5:30 PM—First Lady Michelle Obama meets with First Lady Peng Liyuan.

Pooled press coverage

Beijing, China * 6:00 PM —First Lady Michelle Obama joins First Lady Peng Liyuan for dinner and a performance. Mrs. Robinson and the First Lady’s daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama, will also attend.

Closed Press