Free From the Press, First Lady Blogs About Her China Trip

First Lady replaces press with personal blog

On her mission of “soft diplomacy” to China, the First Lady is replacing the largely blacked-out press with a personal blog of the trip. Her first entry detailed the charms and accomplishments of the First Lady of China, Madam Peng (which she tells us is pronounced “Pung”), and describes the robotics course of Beijing Normal School.

Michelle Obama is taking her mother and daughters with her on the week-long China diplomatic visit, which will include stops at three cities. The almost complete media blackout of the trip has caused a stir from the media. The Daily Mail reported on what it calls the largely taxpayer-funded vacation Wednesday that the First Lady will not allow questions from reporters, no press on the flight, and will only provide two truly “open press” events out of the 22 events scheduled on the calendar.

Instead of the standard press detail, the First Lady is providing a series of blogs. Here’s an excerpt from her first entry, where she introduces her Chinese counterpart:

After a long flight from Washington, D.C. – one that took around 20 hours – my mother, my daughters, and I arrived in Beijing to begin our official visit to China.  Our first stop was at the Beijing Normal School, where we were hosted by Madam Peng Liyuan, the First Lady of China.

Madam Peng (her name is pronounced “Pung”) first became known to the Chinese people long before she was First Lady.  Madam Peng earned her Master’s Degree in traditional ethnic music at China’s Conservatory of Music, and in 1983, she performed as a folk singer on the Chinese Lunar New Year telecast, which is consistently the most-watched broadcast in the world.  In the years since, she has appeared on that telecast multiple times, while also performing for audiences throughout China, becoming one of the most popular folk singers in her country. 

In addition to being a singer, Madam Peng has also earned the civilian rank equal to a Major General in the Chinese military (she joined when she was 18 years old).  Three years ago, she was named a Global Ambassador by the World Health Organization, and she works to fight diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.  And last year, she became China’s First Lady when her Husband, President Xi Jinping, became China’s President.