Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai talks with Ivanka Trump during the Chinese New Year reception at the Chinese embassyin WashingtonD.C. on Feb 2, 2017. [Photo by Zhao Huanxin/China Daily]
US first daughter Ivanka Trump and her daughter came to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC on Wednesday night to attend a Spring Festivalcelebration. Her appearance attracted wide attention.
Customarily, American presidents usually send greetings at lunar new year, but this time US President Donald Trumpbroke with tradition, letting his acting Secretary of State Tom Shannon do the job instead. Whether US presidents send greetings at Chinese lunar new year does not impact the festival mood among Chinese, except perhaps those in the US.
Trump's lack of a new year greeting has been interpreted as maintaining a hard-line stance toward China. Ivanka Trump's attendance at the Chinese new year celebration sent an opposing message, which was seen as balancing Trump's harsh posture.
Among the recent first families of the US, Ivanka Trump is regarded as the most influential first daughter, whose words and deeds are also believed to carry more weight. Her appearance at the Chinese Embassy, with a certain political and diplomatic significance, could be invigorating to the China-US relationship.
Since his official swearing-in on January 20, Trump has hit out on different fronts, lashing out at Germany, Japan and Mexico and issuing a ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. However, despite his stern rhetoric about China, Trump hasn't taken any action so far, preferring to remain in a seemingly psychological war with Beijing.
Trump's policies have a sense of proportion. For instance, the travel ban was not applied to Saudi Arab and Egypt, two countries that are still important to the US. Trump is at odds with American traditional media, but is at peace with new media, which does not necessarily favor him.
Trump is clear that China will certainly take retaliatory measures against his provocations, and is calculating the difficulties and costs of going up against China.
During the first weeks of his presidency, Trump has further split US society and rocked the world as he worked to fulfill his campaign promises, such as abolishing healthcare reform, withdrawing from the TPP free trade deal, proposing a US-Mexico wall and issuing the travel ban. The intensified support and opposition Trump received have reached a fragile balance during the early days of his tenure. Hitting out against China will be a risky move, for which Trump needs to find a good reason and be certain about the benefits.
The excuses that Trump made to cause a deterioration in the Sino-US relationship have been weighed up by US society and cannot spur Americans. Meanwhile, Trump is clear his toughness against Chinese will incur equally tough reactions from China.
If clashes break out between Beijing and Washington under Trump, which side the Western mainstream public opinion would support is hard to predict.
China cherishes peace, but is also well-prepared to fight for peace. While Beijing fully respects Trump, his team and his family, we should resolutely fight against his provocations.
Ivanka Trump attends the Chinese New Year reception at the Chinese embassy in Washington D.C. on Feb 2, 2017. [Photo by Zhao Huanxin/China Daily]