Michelle Obama plans a weeklong solo visit to China this month that includes meetings with China’s first lady and high school and university students.
It will be her first visit to the Asian economic powerhouse.
In an announcement Monday on the White House blog, the first lady says a China visit is important because it is the most populous country in the world, with more than 1.3 billion people, and is an important world actor.
Mrs. Obama will travel from March 19-26, spending several days in the capital of Beijing before stops in the central city of Xian and the southwestern city of Chengdu, the White House said. Her schedule includes a meeting with Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In China, Mrs. Obama will focus on the power and importance of education, including in her own life, during visits to a high school and a university in Beijing, and a high school in Chengdu.
She recently began an effort to encourage America’s young people, including some of the most economically disadvantaged, to pursue a college education. On past trips outside the U.S., she also has made the same point to students from the host country. Mrs. Obama grew up in a poor Chicago family, but earned degrees from two of America’s best universities.
In China, she will be accompanied by daughters, Malia and Sasha, and her mother, Marian Robinson, who lives at the White House. President Obama will not be on the trip; he is scheduled to depart the U.S. later that week for stops in the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Saudi Arabia.
Mrs. Obama is encouraging American students to follow her trip on social media and the White House website, where she will post a daily travel blog. In preparation for the trip, she scheduled a visit Tuesday to a Washington charter elementary school with a Chinese-immersion, international baccalaureate program.
Among recent first ladies, Laura Bush traveled to China with President George W. Bush, and Beijing was the place where Hillary Rodham Clinton made her now famous declaration at a United Nations women’s conference in 1995 that “women’s rights are human rights.”