As secretary of State, Rex Tillerson may be America’s top diplomat, but first daughter Ivanka Trump is running a close second.
She paid a surprise visit to the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, in recognition of the lunar new year, an important event for Chinese around the world, which is based on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar.
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Ivanka Trump is surprise guest at Chinese embassy’s Lunar New Year party https://t.co/qbfvlC2yqF pic.twitter.com/TBjPpmjzeV
— SCMP News (@SCMP_News) February 3, 2017
Ivanka’s father, President Donald Trump, has ruffled feathers in Beijing with tough talk accusing China of currency manipulation and empire expansion into the South China Sea, along with accepting a congratulatory call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.
The Guardian reported on the importance of Chinese New Year:
The lunar new year, also known as spring festival, is the most important holiday in China, sparking the world’s 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”.
Ivanka’s appearance at the new year’s celebration, with her five-year-old daughter Arabella in tow, managed to melt hearts and smooth relations between the two countries over.
Year of the Rooster: Ivanka Trump attended a party celebrating the lunar new year, Wednesday night at the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC pic.twitter.com/DLlrfwPFXS
— TRUMP MOVEMENT (@TRUMPMOVEMENTUS) February 2, 2017
If there was a highlight to the evening, it was Arabella’s performance of a song she learned that wished everyone a happy and prosperous new year — sung in Mandarin Chinese. She has reportedly been learning the language since she was 18 months old. Mom proudly posted the clip to social media for the special occasion where it earned a lot of accolades.
Arabella singing a song she learned for #ChineseNewYear. Wishing everyone an amazing year to come during these days of celebration. 新年快乐！ pic.twitter.com/jxHHLvhmzm
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) February 2, 2017
The two were greeted at the embassy by Chinese ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai.
The Global Times, a state-run tabloid, saw their visit as “balancing Trump’s harsh posture.”
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“Her appearance at the Chinese embassy, with a certain political and diplomatic significance, could be invigorating to the China-US relationship,” the paper said.
.@IvankaTrump at DC’s Chinese Embassy to celebrate #SpringFestival with daughter Arabella, a Chinese learner since 18 months old #ChinaNight pic.twitter.com/4lA2WHkhwe
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) February 2, 2017
Video of Arabella’s performance has since caught on within the People’s Republic, and has been viewed more than 18 million times on the Chinese social media website Weibo.
While Ivanka and Arabella have been praised for the visit and the song and even described the duo as “friendship messengers,” many Chinese still believe the president snubbed them.
“Trump’s daughter visits China’s embassy and wishes China a happy New Year!” one Weibo user commented, according to The Daily Mail. But he added, “The daughter understands more than the father.”
“A bridge of friendship is needed between China and the U.S.,” Chen Zhijun a gold salesman believed.
“I’m glad to see his daughter and little granddaughter being friendship messengers … it is a sign of being nice,” Chen Zhijun a gold salesman said after observing, “A bridge of friendship is needed between China and the U.S.”
Although Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, is a senior advisor to the president, Ivanka doesn’t hold any official position in her father’s administration. But if Wednesday’s visit is any indication, she could become its unofficial goodwill ambassador.
Highlights of the trip can be watched below:
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