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China-US relations

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend China’s National Day reception in Washington despite questions over Beijing links

Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law previously cancelled visit to China after concerns were raised about their role

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 1:12pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 September, 2017, 11:11pm

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attended China’s National Day reception in Washington on Wednesday despite questions over their contacts with Beijing.

The couple cancelled a planned trip to China earlier this month, which was intended to make preparations for US President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing.

Trump’s daughter and son-in-law visited the Chinese embassy in the US capital to mark the 68th anniversary of the People’s Republic at a reception that was also attended by China’s Vice-Premier Liu Yandong.

The Kushners, who both have White House posts, played a significant role in smoothing the bumpy beginning of the Trump administration’s relations with China.

They reportedly helped prepare the ground for the meeting between Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping in Florida in April.

Has China overplayed the Kushner card in dealing with the White House?

But their last scheduled trip to China – preparation for another meeting between the presidents in November – was cancelled following criticism from within the White House over their suitability for the role.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has now taken charge of organising the summit and is also visiting Beijing this week.

Concerns were raised about the couple’s potential conflicts of interest and Kushner’s alleged contacts with Russia during the 2016 election.

Pundits have questioned Beijing’s wisdom in setting so much store in the couple when dealing with White House, with some concerned that an overreliance on ties with Trump’s family could hurt China’s image as well as bilateral relations.

But Chinese diplomats said Beijing’s strategic use of the channel was an effective way to smooth initial relations between Trump and Xi.

They said top leaders in Beijing knew they could not depend solely on Kushner or other members of Trump’s family.

The Kushner family courted controversy for promoting a US$500,000 “investor visa” scheme via their real estate business in Beijing in May.

Meanwhile clothes for Ivanka’s personal brand are made in China, including in a factory that has been criticised by monitoring groups for violations of labour laws.

Earlier this month, China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, met Kushner during his short stopover in the US – a gesture that analysts said shows the Chinese still value the Kushner channel.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s China visit was cancelled amid questions over suitability as organisers of president’s trip

During Wednesday’s celebration, the Kushners and several US lawmakers listened to a speech by Liu, who was is in Washington for the China-US Social and Cultural Dialogue.

Ivanka’s last visit to the embassy – to celebrate the Lunar New Year – boosted her popularity in China, as the so-called first daughter took her Mandarin-speaking daughter Arabella, five, who was dressed in red.