2014-03-16T185512Z_1_CBREA2F1GK800_RTROPTP_2_USA-OBAMA

In China, Michelle Obama to stay firmly in 'mom in chief' mode

First lady Michelle Obama eats after harvesting vegetables from the summer crop from the White House Kitchen Garden in WashingtonBy Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. first lady Michelle Obama is expected to steer clear of controversial issues such as human rights when she visits China this week but her trip could help advance a top item on her husband’s foreign policy agenda: deepening Washington’s ties with Beijing. The week-long trip marks only the third foreign solo trip for Obama, who has cultivated a self-described “mom in chief” image, putting her energy into raising her daughters Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12, and signature domestic policy issues such as combating childhood obesity. She has joked that her motto during her husband’s White House tenure has been to “do no harm.” In keeping with that cautious approach, the White House said Obama’s message on the trip will focus on cultural ties between the two countries and “the power and importance of education” for young people in both countries. But her trip, which will be front-page news in China and closely parsed by media, will carry important symbolic value.

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