Michelle Obama sets off for China

Michelle Obama sets off for China
Mrs Obama is unlikely to directly address specific bilateral issues during her visit.

United States First Lady Michelle Obama heads on her first solo trip to China on Wednesday aiming to build up people-to-people ties while likely setting aside the thornier issues that loom over the Sino-US relationship.

The White House released details of the First Lady's visit on Tuesday and stressed that she will emphasise the message of education and how important it is for young people to know one another and experience each other's cultures.

She will visit Beijing, Xi'an and Chengdu from March 19 to March 26, spending a full day in Beijing with her Chinese counterpart, Madam Peng Liyuan.

And while Mrs Obama will likely not directly address specific bilateral issues, her visit is still expected to play a significant role in advancing ties between China and the US.

On a conference call with reporters, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes said Mrs Obama's trip is an opportunity to break through some of the "mistrust" between the US and China.

"We don't expect the people of China to agree with all of our policy positions at any given moment but the more they understand the United States, the more they understand the President and the First Lady and their values and their priorities, we think the better it is for both of our countries," he said.

"And so I do think it's beneficial that we are able to go beyond simply what may be in the newspaper on a given day, and reaching out and trying to forge these broader connections to people in China," he added.

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