China Bans Obama-Mao T-Shirts for Michelle's Visit

Michelle Obama’s China trip with her two daughters and her mother is going swimmingly except that there is one item she simply cannot find- a T-shirt with an image of Barack Obama wearing a Mao hat. The Weekly Standard reported that “authorities made sure, for a day, that Mutianyu [a section of the Great Wall] was visibly free of Obama-Mao t-shirts.” When reporters tried to ascertain why the shirts were not available, merchants simply denied they had sold any such shirts. There was one intrepid female merchant who offered to sell a shirt with the image to a reporter for roughly $60. But then other merchants allegedly warned her to put the shirts away.

Michelle Obama told Chinese professors, students and parents how important education had been for her, saying, “Education is an important focus for me. It's personal, because I wouldn't be where I am today without my parents investing and pushing me to get a good education. My parents were not educated themselves, but one of the things they understood was that my brother and I needed that foundation.” She asserted that she believed in free speech in a 15-minute speech at Peking University.

Zhang Lifan, an independent historian, commented,  “I was very impressed by her speech mentioning freedom of speech. Although the Chinese constitution guarantees freedom of speech, Chinese citizens don't really enjoy that right. I think she just reminded China in a polite and mild way that not allowing freedom of speech is not conducive to China.”

Michelle Obama did not mention her thoughts on free speech in America.


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