Michelle Obama was greeted here first by clear air and a blue sky, a rarity and coincidence that locals celebrated. And second by President Xi Jinping and his wife, and Obama’s counterpart, Peng Liyuan, who hosted Obama for the day. …

After touring a robotics lab and a calligraphy classroom at the high school, Peng took Obama to a Ping-Pong practice area. Six pairs of students played at tables as Obama, her daughters and her mother watched, their eyes often darting back and forth, following the ball. Peng nodded as she followed the play. …

“Okay, we’re going to get this. Let’s go,” she said, after taking a little instruction from a coach.

She volleyed back and forth with the instructor gamely trying out Ping-Pong diplomacy, for more than a minute. She then volleyed with a young woman and periodically said “Nice” when the opposing player made a return.