The March 19-26 trip will include a visit with her Chinese counterpart, Peng Liyuan, who is a popular folk singer and the second wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The trip will be Michelle Obama's first to China. Her itinerary includes stops in the Chinese capital, Beijing, on March 20-23; Xian on March 24; and Chengdu on March 25-26.
The first lady's focus will be on the importance of education in her own life and in the lives of young people in both countries, her office said. The Obamas will visit important historical and cultural sites, a university and high school in Beijing and a high school in Chengdu.
In advance of her overseas trip, Michelle Obama on Tuesday plans to visit a Chinese immersion school, the Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, where pre-K students are studying the language and sixth-graders will tell her about their 2013 trip to China, her office said.
Yu Ying means "nurturing excellence" and is also the name of a groundbreaking school for girls that was founded in 1911 in Beijing, her office said. The Chinese school offered classroom education when the centuries-old tutorial system still was the norm there, and it was a "powerful force for educational change in China," her office said.
When Hillary Rodham Clinton was first lady, she visited China, speaking in 1995 in Beijing at the United Nations' Fourth World Conference on Women. Clinton declared that "women's rights are human rights."
Laura Bush made three trips to China with her husband, George W. Bush, in 2002, in 2005 and for the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.
First lady Nancy Reagan accompanied her husband, President Ronald Reagan, on a trip to China in 1984.
Pat Nixon also traveled to China as first lady, accompanying President Richard Nixon during his historic 1972 trip to the communist nation. While in China, Pat Nixon "became a living symbol of the U.S. government," according to her biography at the National First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio.
With President Nixon in closed-door meetings most of the time with Chinese officials, the international media "followed Pat Nixon in her bright red coat as she met with workers, students, dancers, farmers and others living everyday lives," the biography says.
Michelle Obama is inviting U.S. students to follow her trip by signing up for updates throughout the trip at whitehouse.gov.
PBS LearningMedia and Discovery Education will offer "engagement opportunities" for young people surrounding the first lady's trip and make resources available to U.S. classrooms about the people and geography of China and current events there, her office said.
PBS LearningMedia offers classroom-ready, curriculum-targeted digital resources for grades pre-K through 12, according to its Web site. Discovery Education, an arm of Discovery Communications, also provides digital content to schools, according to its Web site.