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Arabella diplomacy: Trump’s 6-year-old granddaughter is helping him win over Xi Jinping

U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RC167D1BE150
Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
Chuckles all around.
  • Zheping Huang
By Zheping Huang


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Donald Trump landed in Beijing today (Nov. 8) as he kicks off his three-day state visit to China. Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, showed Trump and his wife Melania around the Forbidden City, and is expected to host an official dinner for the first couple inside the centuries-old imperial palace.

Unlike the first Trump-Xi summit at Mar-a-Lago in April, the US president is being accompanied by neither his daughter Ivanka, who is as much a celebrity in China as she is at home, nor her husband Jared Kushner, who has a swelling White House portfolio including China but has recently been sidelined. Their six-year-old daughter Arabella, however, is again making a presence, at least via cute videos.

During a tea talk in the Forbidden City, Trump used a tablet computer to show the Xi couple videos of Arabella reciting classic Chinese literature and singing songs in Mandarin, according to state news agency Xinhua (link in Chinese). One of the ancient Chinese texts Arabella was shown reciting, Xinhua said, was Three Character Classic—the same text Arabella performed to Xi in person during the April summit.

Xi praised Arabella for making some decent progress with her Mandarin, and scored her skills “A+,” Xinhua said. He added that Arabella has become a “little star” in China, and said he hoped she could visit China in the near future.

Arabella won hearts in China after videos of her reciting ancient Chinese poems, first posted by Ivanka on Instagram, went viral on social media. Some Chinese internet users have credited her Mandarin skills for shaping impressions of Trump, despite his threatening rhetoric against China over trade and North Korea. Ivanka seems happy to make use of her daughter’s charm. She took her not only to the first Trump-Xi meeting, but also to a Lunar New Year event organized by the Chinese embassy in Washington.

Ivanka has a Chinese nanny teaching Mandarin to her three children, who also attend Mandarin classes at an expensive private school in Manhattan.


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