Beijing media says visit to embassy in US could help balance presidents harsh posture but relationship with Washington remains strained
Donald Trumps ascension to the presidency has been marked with tough talk on China and he has surrounded himself with a clique of China-bashing advisers. Now China sees a glimmer that the relationship is not entirely lost and is pinning hopes on a new tool to balance Trumps bombast: the Ivanka effect.
Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of the president, made an appearance at the Chinese embassy in Washington on Wednesday evening during a celebration for Chinese New Year, with her own daughter in tow.
The lunar new year, also known as spring festival, is the most important holiday in China, sparking the worlds largest migration of people as millions of workers return home. It is celebrated by Chinese communities around the world, and has become an occasion for world leaders to offer greetings, and sometimes show off their Mandarin chops.
Chinese media took note that Trump did not send a personal message to mark the holiday this year. Instead the acting secretary of state issued a statement on behalf of President Trump and the American people.
But another member of the Trump family stepped up for the most basic of diplomatic missions: Ivanka Trumps five-year-old daughter. Arabella, who has been learning the language since she was 18 months old, sang in Mandarin Chinese in a video posted to Twitter.
Ivanka Trump was greeted at the party by the Chinese ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, before watching a series of traditional crafts used to mark the holiday, according to a video posted by state media. She and her daughter were also accompanied by the ambassador for a musical performance, with every move recorded by a scrum of photographers.
The Global Times, a state-run tabloid, interpreted her visit as balancing Trumps harsh posture.
Her appearance at the Chinese embassy, with a certain political and diplomatic significance, could be invigorating to the China-US relationship, the paper said in an editorial.
The visit raises the prospect that the presidents daughter, who does not hold an official position in the US government, may act as a proxy for her father, perhaps playing the good cop to his bad cop. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is a senior adviser at the White House.
As her father has railed against China and promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US during his campaign, factories in China have turned out tens of thousands of shoes for Ivanka Trumps fashion line.
Chinese social media lit up with news of her embassy visit, with the hashtag #TrumpsDaughterVisitsChinasEmbassy breaking the top 10 on the countrys version of Twitter.
China has been fairly restrained in the face of Trumps bombastic rhetoric. Cui, the Chinese ambassador, continued in that vein at the lunar new year event, hoping to maintain a status quo in relations with Washington.
We have learned that we should always respond to difficulties and challenges by cooperation, instead of conflict or confrontation, he said during a speech. We should work together for win-win cooperation, instead of being misguided by zero-sum or cold war mentality.