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First lady Michelle Obama and daughters to visit China this month

Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha stopped in Pretoria, en route to Johannesburg, during a trip to South Africa in June 2011. (File photo by Charles Dharapak/AFP/Getty Images)

First lady Michelle Obama will visit China on March 19-26, with stops in Beijing, Xi’an and Chengdu on a trip that will focus on education, the White House announced Monday.

Obama will be accompanied by her daughters, Malia and Sasha, and her mother, Marian Robinson. President Obama will not be on the trip.

During her visit, the first lady will meet with Madame Peng, the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and will visit cultural and historical sites. Obama will be focusing on the power and importance of education, both in her own life and in the lives of young people in both countries," the White House said in a statement.

In preparation for the trip, Obama will visit the District's Yu Ying public charter school, which features a Mandarin-immersion program, on Tuesday. Sasha Obama has studied Mandarin at Sidwell Friends school, and she practiced some phrases with former President Hu Jintao during the former president’s state visit in 2011.

The first lady has said she sees such trips abroad as an opportunity both to act as an ambassador for the United States and to expose her daughters to the world. Her daughters receive national briefing books on the countries they visit, styled after the books prepared for the president and first lady.

During a 2011 trip to South Africa and Botswana, where Michelle Obama traveled with her daughters, mother, niece and nephew, Malia and Sasha were publicly visible in ways they rarely are in the United States. Both accompanied their mother on official visit to tourist sites in the country, read to school children and took a South African safari.

The first lady has made other trips abroad without the president, including a trip to Mexico and Haiti in 2010.

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.

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