US first lady Michelle Obama. Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — U.S. first lady Michelle Obama has told students in the Chinese capital that freedom of speech and religion and access to information should be universal rights, and help make countries stronger.

Obama was speaking Saturday at Peking University in Beijing during a trip aimed at promoting student exchanges.

She said the free flow of information is crucial, “Because that’s how we discover truth. That’s how we learn what’s really happening in our communities, our country and our world.”

She says it makes countries stronger “when the voices and opinions of all their citizens can be heard.”

China has some of the world’s tightest controls on speech, blocking off foreign news sites and many foreign social media sites. Its army of censors routinely filters out information deemed off-limits by the government.