Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have been invited to China as Beijing works to build closer ties with the influential couple inside an erratic White House.
Trump, daughter of the US president, and her husband both have official roles in the White House and the trip is expected to take place this year, Bloomberg News reported. The two had dinner with the incoming US ambassador to China on Sunday at the Trump Hotel in Washington as he prepared to depart for Beijing.
China’s President Xi Jinping verbally invited Donald Trump and Kushner to visit during his visit to the Mar-a-lago resort in April that Kushner helped plan. Kushner has been tasked with managing relations with China, among a host of other duties including making peace between Israel and Palestine.
Chinese officials have been scrambling to build closer ties with key members of the US administration after Donald Trump’s election victory surprised many in the leadership. The couple’s visit is unlikely to take place before October, as senior officials prepare for a twice a decade leadership reshuffle at a key Communist party meeting.
Ivanka Trump is broadly popular in China where state media often lavishes her and her Mandarin-learning daughter with praise.
Earlier this year a video of the two visiting the Chinese embassy in Washington for lunar new year went viral. Ivanka Trump frequently posts clips of her daughter singing in Chinese. The Global Times, a state-run tabloid, has described her as "balancing [Donald] Trump’s harsh posture”.
But the couple have been criticised for their business ties to China, shining a spotlight on potential conflicts as the two prepare to engage diplomatically with the country.
Trump’s brand was recently embroiled in controversy after three labor activists were arrested for investigating working conditions at factories that manufacture her products. Trump has stayed silent on the matter, although the US state department has called for the investigators’ release.
In an attempt to distance itself from the controversy, Trump’s brand previously said shoes had not been made at one of the factories since March, although internal documents seen by the Guardian show orders were slated to be filled through the end of May when the activists were arrested.
Kushner has also come under fire for his ties to China. In March a Chinese financial conglomerate, Anbang, scrapped a $400m investment in a building owned by Kushner’s real estate firm. The deal fell apart after intense public scrutiny and criticism from lawmakers and ethics experts.
Kushner’s company has also been denounced for encouraging Chinese investment in its projects by using a controversial US visa program.