Updated: 03/20/2014 23:37 | By Agence France-Presse

Michelle Obama in China for week-long tour

Michelle Obama arrived in Beijing on Thursday, kicking off a week-long tour which US officials say is focused deliberately on soft issues in a bid to dispel growing mistrust between the United States and China.

Michelle Obama in China for week-long tour

US First Lady Michelle Obama (L) waves as she and her daughter Sasha leave their plane upon arrival at Beijing's Capital International Airport on March 20, 2014 - by Alexander F. Yuan

Accompanied by her daughters and mother, the US first lady's visit will take her to some of China's most celebrated sites including the Great Wall, the ancient terracotta warrior sculptures of Xi'an and a panda reserve.

White House officials have said that Michelle Obama would not take up the myriad disputes between the two nations but would instead speak about educational exchanges and emphasise US goodwill towards the Chinese people.

The Chinese public's opinion of the United States has significantly worsened from highs when President Barack Obama took office in 2009. 

Forty percent of Chinese had a favourable opinion of the United States in last year's Pew Research Center survey -- a figure far below that in Western and African nations but still higher than the rate in most of the Islamic world.

The world's two largest economies have been increasingly at odds over issues that include allegations of mass Chinese cyber-espionage and Beijing's increasing assertiveness in territorial disputes with US allies Japan and the Philippines.

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