Michelle Obama starts landmark trip

Michelle Obama starts landmark trip

BEIJING - After a long journey from Washington, US first lady Michelle Obama landed in Beijing on Thursday evening, starting her long-awaited trip to China with a big smile and a wave.

When Obama, in an elegant black dress, stepped out of the plane with her mother and two teenager daughters, dozens of reporters that had waited in the airport for hours incessantly clicked their camera shutters.

Though nobody from the delegation spoke to the media, the first lady's brief debut spread quickly on Chinese media and micro blogs, where users discussed what she would wear and eat, and how she will interact with Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan.

"It is another innovation in the history of Chinese diplomacy" and helps both sides' leaders strengthen their personal relations, said Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies.

Ruan was referring to the latest "creative" laid-back meeting between President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, at the Sunnylands resort in California last June, soon after Xi assumed office.

Peng, Xi's wife, accompanied her husband on the Sunnylands visit but did not meet Michelle Obama, who was in Washington. Her absence left some Chinese disappointed and more excited about the "make-up" meeting.

On Friday, Michelle Obama, a Harvard-educated lawyer, is to spend almost the whole day with Peng. The two first ladies will visit a high school in Beijing, stroll inside the Forbidden City, eat Peking duck and watch a performance together.

"The meeting of the two first ladies shows that China is more open and is getting more involved with the international community," Ruan said.

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