First lady takes indirect jab at Chinese media censorship

First lady takes indirect jab at Chinese media censorship

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk with daughters Malia (L) and Sasha (2nd R) across Lafayette Park to Saint John's Episcopal Chuch for Sunday services on October 27, 2013 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN

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by CBS News

KREM.com

Posted on March 24, 2014 at 7:42 AM

First lady Michelle Obama is in the middle of her week-long tour of China with her two daughters and her mother. The tour was expected to avoid controversy -- something she actually had been criticized for -- but over the weekend she took an indirect swipe at China's media censorship.

In a country with some of the tightest internet restrictions in the world, her words come across as a bold statement.

"It is so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet and through the media," she said on a visit to Peking University.

She hit a hot-button issue in China by praising freedom of speech in America.

"My husband and I are on the receiving end of plenty of questioning and criticism from our media and our fellow citizens, and it's not always easy, but we wouldn't trade it for anything in the world because time and again, we have seen that countries are stronger and more prosperous when the voices of -- and opinions of all -- their citizens can be heard," Mrs. Obama said.

So far, it's the only contentious topic the first lady has addressed. She was dispatched to work on relationship-building between the two countries and the photo-ops have been abundant.

Over the weekend the first lady took in the Great Wall of China with daughters Malia and Sasha -- an experience she blogged about on the White House website.

"It is day three of our trip to China," she wrote. "We're still in Beijing. The length of the Great Wall of China is approximately 13,000 miles."

She's met with the Chinese president and first lady, visited schools, and talked up student exchanges between the U.S. and China. She watched a ping pong class and even played -- an opportunity the first lady used to promote physical activity on her blog.

"Students here are encouraged to stay fit just as we're trying to do with our children in the United States through 'Let's Move,'" she said.

The reception from the Chinese has been positive. They've praised her clothing and public interactions. One newspaper said the visit would help U.S.-China relations. And on China's Twitter equivalent, "Michelle Obama" became one of the most-searched terms.

On Monday, big crowds continued to greet the first lady. At one stop, the first lady even accepted an invitation to jump rope. The family will be in China through Wednesday, when they will return to the White House.

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