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In Beijing talk, Michelle Obama extols free speech

Michelle Obama greeted a student from Chicago at the Summer Palace in Beijing, China.
Michelle Obama greeted a student from Chicago at the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

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BEIJING — On a visit that was supposed to be nonpolitical, Michelle Obama delivered an unmistakable message to the Chinese on Saturday, saying in a speech here that freedom of speech, particularly on the Internet and in the news media, provided the foundation for a vibrant society.

On the second day of a weeklong trip to China with her two daughters and her mother, Obama, the first lady, spoke to an audience of Americans and Chinese at Peking University. In the middle of an appeal for more US students to study abroad, she also spoke of the value for people of hearing “all sides of every argument.”

“Time and again, we have seen that countries are stronger and more prosperous when the voices and opinions of all their citizens can be heard,” she said.

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