As President Donald Trump postures his White House administration as one opposed to China's economic impact on the U.S., the eastern nation could be eyeing Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner as a last hope for reconciliation.
After President Donald Trump broke with standard White House tradition in not sending out a personal greeting for Chinese New Year, Ivanka Trump was seen with daughter, Arabella, at the Chinese Embassy's New Year reception partaking in Chinese traditions and playing with puppets. The public meeting was subsequently lauded by China press. Ivanka even posted a Twitter video of Arabella singing a song in Mandarin, utilizing the #ChineseNewYear hashtag.
Donald Trump has been a vocal critic of China since before his presidential campaign, noting as recently as January that the country "has been taking out massive amounts of money and wealth from the U.S. in totally one-sided trade." The president has also surrounded himself with advisers who are also skeptical of Chinese President Xi Jinping's government — including White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who has said there is 'no doubt' the U.S. will be at war with China in the next few years.
In addition to Ivanka Trump's embassy visit, Jared Kushner — senior adviser and son-in-law to President Trump — has also played a role in the U.S.-China connection. Kushner and China Ambassador Cui Tiankai reportedly had a behind-the-scenes meeting and have had an extensive ongoing dialogue described as "positive" by a White House official.
A taskforce of prominent China experts recently handed down a report on recommendations for President Trump on U.S.-China dealings, saying the administration "must move quickly to reassure our allies and friends that our commitment to the region is steadfast," or else plunge into an increasingly volatile new era. Kushner's relationship with China previously sparked intrigue when it was reported that China's Anbang Insurance Group was in talks to invest in a project to redevelop a flagship New York City building owned by Kushner Companies.
As Ivanka Trump and Kushner continue to exert White House influence, the pair's motive remain unclear — as do those of the Chinese government. Earlier this month, President Jinping addressed the World Economic Forum and included a clear message to President Trump on trade, saying, "No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war."