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Michelle Obama’s trip to China begins on Wednesday, but The White House has made sure to stress beforehand that the trip is “non-political,” and an act of soft diplomacy. No press is traveling with the First Lady and she has no plans for interviews.

Obama’s trip serves a few purposes. On a broad level, it’s a standard visit from a foreign dignitary in order to keep both sides cordial. The First Lady will also be talking up educational exchange programs and trying to raise the appeal of studying abroad in China. The number of Chinese students studying in America dwarfs its inverse 10 to 1.

Mrs. Obama will also be accompanied by her mother and her two daughters, who are on spring break. The week-long trip is her third without President Obama since he took office.

The First Lady will also attend a number of events with Peng Liyuan, China’s First Lady. The two will visit a school and the Forbidden City, as well as have a private dinner together. After leaving Beijing, she will also visit a panda breeding center and view terracotta warrior sculptures.

President Obama is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at a nuclear summit next week.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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