(by Neil Munro, The Daily Caller) -- The first lady, her mother, her two kids, plus numerous White House aides and security personnel are going to tour China this month, but White House officials are refusing to say how much the taxpayers will pay for the trip.
However, they did say it would be a thrill for everyone on the trip, including for Michelle Obama’s top aide, Tina Tchen.
“It is a real honor and privilege, and I think we are all, here in the first lady’s office, quite excited about the upcoming trip,” said Tchen, just after she declared that “my parents emigrated from China in the late ’40s, so this … will be my fourth time returning to China but the first time, obviously, in a role such as this.”
“The first lady has been looking for an opportunity to go to China,” said Ben Rhodes, the White House’s deputy national security advisor for strategic communications.
“I think the first lady is very much looking forward to it,” said Tchen.
“We will meet [the Chinese president's wife] Madame Peng on our first day … [and] she will accompany the first lady and her family to the Forbidden City and will take the first lady through the Forbidden City before they’re able to join each other for a meal, a private meal and a private performance later on in the evening,” said Tchen. ”We’re looking forward to it.”
Both officials declined to reveal the cost of flying the family to and from China.
“As a general matter, we don’t disclose the details associated with the security of either the president or the first lady,” Rhodes said.
“We are not discussing or disclosing information regarding the details of the logistics of the trip,” said Tchen.
The first lady and the family will travel to China from March 19 to March 26. She will visit the capital Beijing and two northwest cities, Xi’an and Chengdu.
She’ll be accompanied by her mother, Mrs. Marian Robinson, and daughters, Malia and Sasha Obama.
The first lady has taken her mother on several previous trips, including to Spain.
The 2010 trip to Spain cost taxpayers at least $487,000. A 2011 trip to southern Africa cost at least $424,142. The cost estimates were uncovered by Judicial Watch, a D.C.-based watchdog group.