The Cable

China Offers to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Ivanka and Jared

The power couple's growing foreign-policy portfolio also highlights conflicts of interest.

Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, senior adviser to Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Rome's Fiumicino Airport on May 23, 2017. Donald Trump arrived in Rome for a high-profile meeting with Pope Francis in what was his first official trip to Europe since becoming US President. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, senior adviser to Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Rome's Fiumicino Airport on May 23, 2017. Donald Trump arrived in Rome for a high-profile meeting with Pope Francis in what was his first official trip to Europe since becoming US President. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Beijing has extended an invitation to Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, to visit China later this year, a sign that the young couple’s portfolio may soon include cultivating a critical bilateral relationship.

U.S. and Chinese officials are now working out the details of the potential visit, according to Bloomberg. On June 18, the couple also shared a meal with Terry Branstad, Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, Bloomberg reported. Branstad will depart for his post later this week.

President Donald Trump has delegated some of America’s most delicate affairs — from Middle East policy to criminal justice reform — to family members. The relationship with Beijing is particularly important to the Trump White House, which is relying on China amid a growing crisis with North Korea.

The administration has leaned heavily on China to put pressure on North Korea, which has conducted numerous missile tests in recent weeks. Relations with Pyongyang are also in the spotlight after an American held by the North Korean regime since last year died just days after being released and returned to the United States.

Since Trump’s election, China has been courting the power couple to help secure Beijing’s relationship with the new president.

Kushner and Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai arranged the first meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, held at Mar-a-Lago in April. The Chinese Embassy in Washington invited Ivanka and her family to the annual lunar New Year celebration; she and her daughter Arabella attended after the White House failed to send the traditional holiday greetings.

Neither Kushner nor Ivanka have prior government experience. They now both hold positions in Trump’s White House and have ties to companies with extensive dealings in China, drawing criticism over potential conflicts of interest.

Ivanka’s eponymous fashion brand has attracted scrutiny in recent months for its dealings in China. A U.S.-based nongovernmental organization accused Chinese factories that have produced shoes for the brand of labor violations. Several of the NGO’s investigators were detained by Chinese authorities shortly after the group sent a letter to Ivanka Trump informing her of their allegations.

The clothing line subsequently denied that the factories in question had produced Ivanka-branded shoes during the period that the labor investigation had taken place, but documents reviewed by the Guardian revealed that production had continued for at least another two months beyond the date claimed.

Kushner’s sister also sparked controversy during a May event in Beijing, where she appeared to tout the family’s relationship to the U.S. president to appeal to potential investors in their real estate enterprise.

It’s notoriously difficult for foreign brands to secure trademark rights in China, but dozens of Donald Trump trademark applications have been approved there since he was elected president. Critics have asserted that the trademarks constitute a violation of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which states that government officials are not permitted to accept gifts or payments from foreign governments.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian is a contributing writer at Foreign Policy. @BethanyAllenEbr

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