By Rebecca Shabad - 03/22/14 09:26 AM EDT
First lady Michelle Obama told a group of Chinese students Saturday that free speech is a universal right that makes countries stronger.
Nations are “stronger and more prosperous” when people’s opinions are heard," Obama said during her trip to China, which employs some of the strictest limits on the Internet.
“We respect the uniqueness of other cultures and societies, but when it comes to expressing yourself freely and worshipping as you choose and having open access to information, we believe those universal rights — they are universal rights that are the birthright of every person on this planet,” she said of herself and President Obama.
Speaking at Peking University in Beijing, the first lady explained she’s been posting blogs online to document her overseas trip to promote educational exchanges between the U.S. and China.
“And that’s why it’s so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet and through the media, because that’s how we discover the truth,” she said.
New U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus attended Obama’s speech at the university, which is associated with Stanford University, Baucus’ alma mater.
Obama left for her one-week trip to China on Wednesday with first daughters, Sasha and Malia, and her mother, Marian Shields Robinson.
The first lady met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a previously unscheduled meeting on Friday.
She thanked Xi for his hospitality, and he said he’s enjoyed the “personal friendship” he’s developed with President Obama.