Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan 'strengthen cultural ties' in China

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Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan 'strengthen cultural ties' in China

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America’s first lady Michelle Obama has arrived in China for the start of a much-anticipated week-long trip.

Starting in Beijing, the visit will be used to promote education and strengthen cultural ties between the world’s two largest economies.

She will spend part of the tour with her Chinese counterpart Peng Liyuan.

But, the White House has stressed her trip will be “non-political” and Obama is expected to avoid more sensitive topics, such as trade and China’s human rights record.

The first lady has started the trip by indulging in the popular national pastime of ping pong.

After Beijing, she is likely to visit the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors Museum and the Chengdu Panda Base. She will also give a speech at the Stanford Centre at Peking University.

Since taking office in 2009, US president Barack Obama has put a high priority on bolstering ties between the two countries.

China’s official news agency Xinhua said the trip was “especially meaningful”, given tensions in relations between the two countries.

Further strain was added recently when US president Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama, a figure China views as a violent separatist.