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Mrs Obama right to focus on education

Updated: 2014-03-21 08:06
By Chen Weihua ( China Daily)

Mrs Obama right to focus on educationUS First Lady Michelle Obama is visiting China to promote cultural exchanges and stress the importance of education, but no US news media outlets seem to have got this message.

Instead, the reporting so far has been mostly about why Mrs Obama has not put human rights on her agenda, and why the trip with her two daughters, Malia and Sasha and her mother Marian Robinson, is being paid for by taxpayers, why the White House press corps cannot join the entourage, and why only a few of her events are open to the press.

These may be legitimate questions, but they largely reflect Western news media's obsession with sensational headlines, which cultural exchanges and education clearly aren't.

Yes. Talking with China on human rights is critical. The largest developing nation still has a long way to go to improve in this regard. But that doesn't mean every US leader and spouse visiting China must focus on this one topic, not to mention that the US itself has not put its own house in order given its own problematic record in recent years. Besides, not each and every one of the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens wakes up every morning agonizing over their nation's human rights situation.

On the contrary, education is probably the top priority for every Chinese family. And it is a key concern for ordinary families in the US as well. No one would dispute the influence education has on an individual, a society, a nation and the world. Education has a direct impact on the improvement of human rights in a nation. That is especially true when it comes to the vast underprivileged rural population in China, particularly women.

In this regard, the US First Lady sets a powerful example. Coming from a modest background, her father worked as an employee of a water plant in Chicago and her mother was a homemaker, she graduated with excellence from Princeton University and later Harvard Law School.

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