Michelle Obama, her two kids, her mother, and numerous aides will enjoy a taxpayer-funded trip to China from March 19 to March 26. White House officials refuse to tell U.S. taxpayers how much they will shell out for the trip, likely due to inevitable media scrutiny.
Michelle Obama’s top aide, Tina Tchen, will be joining on the trip. She said, “We are not discussing or disclosing information regarding the details of the logistics of the trip.”
Still, the aide did not try to conceal her excitement. She said, “I think we are all, here in the First Lady’s office, quite excited about the upcoming trip… I think the First Lady is very much looking forward to it.”
The Chinese trip will undeniably be expensive. But Ben Rhodes, the White House’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, insisted that the price tag is well worth it. He said, “The most powerful message we can deliver [to Chinese people] is one of the examples of not just the First Lady’s life story but of America and our values. That alone I think speaks to things like respect for human rights that are interwoven into the DNA of the United States of America… The First Lady’s story itself sends a powerful message about the ability of someone of a disadvantaged economic background from a minority group to ascend to the position that she did in private life and now as First Lady.”
He added, “Everywhere that [Michelle] has traveled independently, she has had a tremendous reception and has been able to connect with audiences from Asia to Africa to the Americas… We have differences with China on a host of issues, so it’s a relationship that allows for both a constructive cooperation, and candor when we disagree.”
It is still unclear, however, why China was chosen for the First Lady’s most recent vacation. There are plenty of other countries that are arguably more important to travel to in the short term. At this time, only 110,000 U.S. citizens are living in China.
While in the country, the First Lady and her travel partners will visit numerous cities including Beijing.
Michelle Obama has come under fire in the past for taking expensive, tax-payer funded vacations. Major trips included her $487,000 tour of Spain and a $424,142 stay in Africa.