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China-US relations

Ivanka Trump cancels visits to China and South Korea to promote her father’s tax plan

After the first daughter visits Japan for a speech on Friday she will return to the US over the weekend, lobbying for a tax overhaul, the White House said

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 November, 2017, 7:25am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 November, 2017, 7:58am

US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka has cancelled plans to visit South Korea and China during her father’s upcoming Asian trip to work on his proposed tax bill, AP reported.

After the first daughter visits Japan for a speech on Friday she will return to the US over the weekend, lobbying for a tax overhaul, a White House official was quoted as saying.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn will also hold tax events around the country in support of the proposed legislation, the White House said.

It was unclear whether Mnuchin and Cohn, who were to accompany the president to Asia, will return home after Japan with Ivanka.

During a White House press briefing on Tuesday, a senior administration official declined to confirm Ivanka Trump’s change of plan.

The US government’s rule is to not name officials who provide background information to the press in on-the-record briefings.

“I’m not going to go into the specifics of who’s where and when at what stop, ” the official said, according to a transcript of the briefing released by the White House.

President Trump, who will leave the US on Friday, said on Tuesday during a tax meeting that he hoped to sign the tax bill into law by Christmas. He added that while he is in Asia, Mnuchin and Cohn will stay behind to work on the bill, The Washington Post reported.

The official said the US president will arrive in Beijing on the afternoon of November 8 for a series of bilateral, commercial and cultural events, including meetings with President Xi Jinping.

“I anticipate that [Trump] will seek to secure China’s commitments to exert more pressure on North Korea and to rebalance US-China economic relations,” he said.

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Trump will be accompanied by an American CEO delegation convened by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The visit will send a clear message that, for bilateral economic relations to be sustainable over the long term, China must provide fair and reciprocal treatment to US firms and cease predatory trade and investment practices, the senior administration official said.

Ivanka’s absence from Trump’s Asian delegation possibly would remove another figure who has enchanted President Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan: Ivanka’s six-year-old daughter Arabella, who speaks Mandarin.

Arabella, along with her three-year-old brother, Joseph, serenaded Xi and the first lady with a popular Chinese folk song and recited Chinese poetry for them, when the couple visited Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in April.

The children sang the traditional Chinese song, Mo Li Hua (or “Jasmine Flower”), and recited the Three Character Classic for their guests during Xi and Trump’s first face-to-face meeting. Peng, who is a folk singer and performing artist, sang the same song at different events, with her most famous performance at a 2005 gala.

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The Three Character Classic, known as “san zi jing” in Chinese, is a Confucian classic text used to teach young children in China.

Arabella also recited two poems by Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) poet Li Bai for Xi and Peng.

Ivanka and Arabella visited China’s embassy in Washington in February for a Chinese New Year’s party.

Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner, who have been seen as a conduit to Beijing, were to travel to China in September for a goodwill visit ahead of Donald Trump’s Asian trip. The couple’s visit was scrapped, amid a renewed strain in relations between Washington and Beijing.

Kushner and Ivanka Trump have official White House jobs as advisers on issues domestic and international despite their lack of foreign policy experience.

China’s ambassador Cui Tiankai said on Monday that China and the US will achieve “significant outcomes” on the economic and trade issues during Trump’s visit in Beijing.

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A trade surplus, “in the long run, will not help China’s economy. It might even hurt China’s economy. We want more balanced trade relations with other countries,” Cui told reporters at the embassy.

Cui said he expected Xi and Trump to reach more agreements on removing nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula and give “clear guidance on how two countries could handle this issue together”.