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First Lady Urges Freedom of Speech to China

Today, the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama spoke to Chinese students concerning freedom of speech and the accessibility of open information at Peking University in Beijing.

Her message centered on these two elements, which she believes should be a pillar of universal rights and will create stronger nations.

China prohibits many international news portals as well as social media sites including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. A moderated web panel with 50 participating students in Beijing and Palo Alto, CA followed her speech, on the subject of educational transfers. Mrs. Obama stated to the scholars regarding study abroad programs, that they are: "...a vital part of America's foreign policy". She informed listeners on the President's plans to send more American students with varied backgrounds, to China for international studies.

The First Lady described to participating students, the need for a free flow of information: "...because that's how we discover truth, that's how we learn what's really happening in our communities and our country and our world". She further explained, "And that's how we decide which values and ideas we think are best-by questioning and debating them vigorously, by listening to all sides of every argument and by judging for ourselves".

Mrs. Obama added: "Our hope is to build connections between people of all races and socio-economic backgrounds, because it is that diversity that truly will change the face of our relationships". She stressed to listeners the need to share their global experiences with one another.

The goal of Michelle Obama's weeklong stay in China is to serve as an advocate for educational exchanges between China and the United States. Her two daughters and mother are accompanying her; this marks the first time in American history that a U.S. First Lady has independently traveled to China.