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US first lady hosts education roundtable in China



BEIJING (AP) - U.S. first lady Michelle Obama told Chinese professors, students and parents on Sunday that she wouldn't have risen to where she was if her parents hadn't pushed for her to get a good education.

Mrs. Obama made her comments before hosting a discussion about education on the third day of a weeklong visit to the country aimed at promoting educational exchanges between the U.S. and China. She also walked a section of the Great Wall with her two daughters.

"Education is an important focus for me. It's personal, because I wouldn't be where I am today without my parents investing and pushing me to get a good education," the first lady said. "My parents were not educated themselves, but one of the things they understood was that my brother and I needed that foundation."

She said she and her husband wanted as many young people as possible in the United States and the world to have access to education.

She then hosted a roundtable with a handful of Chinese professors, students and parents at an event at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that was attended by new U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus and closed to the media.

In the afternoon, Mrs. Obama, her mother and her two daughters visited a section of the Great Wall in the northern Beijing suburbs. She and daughters Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12, were given time alone to walk on the wall.

On Saturday, Mrs. Obama gave a 15-minute speech at China's prestigious Peking University in which she promoted the free flow of information and freedom of speech, the only time during her trip that she has brought up a contentious issue. China routinely filters out information deemed offensive by the government and silences dissenting voices.

Those remarks by Mrs. Obama were absent from China's state media but were circulating in social media, where they were widely praised.

The trip, the first time a U.S. president's wife has independently visited China, also has given Mrs. Obama an opportunity to engage with President Xi Jinping's wife, Peng Liyuan.

On Friday, the two first ladies toured a Beijing high school, where Mrs. Obama tried her hand at calligraphy and pingpong and visited with students who had built robots. She also met with Xi that evening.

Mrs. Obama will visit the cities of Xi'an and Chengdu before returning to Washington on Wednesday.

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