The pandas are usually the stars of the show at Chengdu’s Giant Panda Research Base, but on Wednesday Michelle Obama stole the limelight as she visited the center.
Obama, travelling with her mother and daughters, visited the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
The reserve - which was closed to the public for the first family’s visit - is home to nearly 80 giant pandas, as well as a colony of red pandas.
Obama and her family had lunch at a Tibetan restaurant in Chengdu, a choice that “was in accordance with (Obama’s) interest in the rights of minorities in China”, according to White House staff.
The dishes served at the Zangxiang Teahouse featured a heavy emphasis on yak, including yak butter tea, yak soup, yak meat pies and boiled yak ribs.
Sichuan and other provinces neighbouring Tibet are home to a minority of Tibetans, an ethnic group that rights activists say faces religious and cultural repression, underscored by more than 120 self-immolation protests by Tibetans in recent years.