By Justin Sink - 03/03/14 10:53 AM EST
First lady Michelle Obama and her daughters, Malia and Sasha, will take a weeklong trip to China later this month to meet with the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as high school and university students.
The trip, reported by The Associated Press, will includes stops in Beijing, the ancient city of Xian and the western economic hub Chengdu. The visit is expected to focus primarily on education, and the first lady and Obama daughters will visit both a high school and university in Beijing, as well as a high school in Chengdu.
The March 19-26 trip will be Michelle Obama’s first visit to China, and will overlap partially with President Obama’s trip to the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Saudi Arabia.
The visit comes just weeks after the president welcomed the Dalai Lama at the White House, in a move denounced by Beijing.
At the time, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration was “concerned about continuing tensions and that the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China.”
"We will continue to urge the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives without pre-conditions as a means to reduce tensions," he said.
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the meeting would “seriously damage Sino-U.S. relations” and called the meeting “a gross interference in China's internal affairs and is a serious violation of the norms of international relations” in a statement obtained by Reuters.