• Mon
  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Updated: 5:14pm
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

Michelle Obama's China trip a success

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 4:55am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 4:55am

American first lady Michelle Obama has given her husband and other world leaders an instructive lesson in soft diplomacy. Her just-ended week-long trip to China was a success in every way, giving insight into US culture and society while building bridges and sending subtle political messages. There was no lecturing about human rights or telling Chinese how to run their country; instead, she mixed style, grace and good humour with insight into her country and homespun wisdom. It is exactly the sort of approach needed to bring greater goodwill to the complex Sino-US relationship.

The White House made clear before the three-city visit that sensitive topics like human rights would be avoided. Instead, there would be a focus on education and "people-to-people" exchanges. An endearing dose of family values was thrown in by her taking her mother and two teenage daughters with her. A carefully chosen itinerary heavy on culture that included a meeting with Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan , tourist stops in Beijing, Xian and Chengdu , and speeches to students ensured Chinese saw the US in a different light.

Beijing gave the visit prominence, with President Xi Jinping welcoming Obama at the start of the trip. He passed along her greetings when he met President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague on Monday. Such warmth was absent when Michelle Obama's predecessors, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, made solo trips to China. Both had loudly criticised Beijing for its human rights record, further straining already delicate ties.

But Obama's soft talk and family-oriented activities did not prevent her from diplomatically imparting political messages. In speeches at Peking University and a high school in Chengdu, she used stories of her own experiences in the US to tell about the value of free expression and the need for tolerance of religions and minorities. Michelle Obama can count her trip a success; her subtle brand of diplomacy is what China and the US need to put their relationship onto a more solid footing.

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In a way, the steep slope of credibility that the SCMP editorial has slid down since HK's handover is staggering. How would anyone with even a passing interest in geopolitics (let alone the editorial of a main daily) be naive enough to believe that a family holiday with all the pretensions of a soft state visit from the US first lady will be of any consequence to the bilateral relationship of China and the US? At the rate it's going, just report and spare us your analysis, dear Editor.
mdap
How is a trip that was nothing more than a vacation for her mother and two teenage children deemed a success? It was nothing more than the Obama family making use of the privilege they will lose at the next US election. China will rise, the US will stagnate and the memory of these tourists will soon be forgotten .... as will Obama himself!
J R
Michelle Obama's China trip maybe a success as far as promoting tourism goes but is meaningless when the US and her allies do not walk the talk. The US and her allies have been practicing double standards when it comes to trade, human rights, democracy etc. They are engaged in massive spying, support of repressive regimes and sowing seeds of discord everywhere while oppressing minorities. For example, native Americans were ethnically cleansed and forced to live in reservations.
jiawang@adb.org
The US wants to create a division between China and Russia.
An isolated Russia will be easier for the US to attack.
Once Russia is weakened, the US will "pivot" to China.
Michelle Obama's trip was a clumsy attempt to fool the Chinese people with fake US "friendship."
bolshoi
Absolutely.
I, for one, will not be fooled by the monkeys.
jiawang@adb.org
The Chinese will be "fooled" by the white puppet masters controlling black puppets. They always are.
 
 
 
 
 

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