Author: Yang Sheng
Posted on: Global Times, February 2nd,2017
US President Donald Trump’s failure to send his Lunar New Year greeting to the Chinese community has triggered heated discussion among the public about what it means for the Sino-US relations, even though his daughter Ivanka Trump made a surprise appearance at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC for the Chinese New Year celebrations on Wednesday.
Former US presidents like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all delivered Lunar New Year greetings to Asians who celebrate this festival.
Some Chinese Net users felt Trump was being disrespectful by not sending a greeting.
An Gang, a member of the academic committee of the Pangoal Institute, a Beijing-based think tank, said, «At this moment, Donald Trump is shaping and reinforcing his tough image on immigrant issue, so he doesn’t want to send the wrong signal by delivering New Year greetings to the Chinese.»
On the other hand, Ivanka on Thursday posted video footage of her daughter singing a Chinese song on Twitter with the hashtag #ChineseNewYear.
«Wishing everyone an amazing year to come during these days of celebration,» she wrote, followed by a greeting of «Happy New Year» spelled out in Chinese.
On Wednesday, Ivanka, together with her 5-year-old daughter Arabella, who has been learning Chinese, went to the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC. Ivanka and Arabella were attracted by paper cuttings and sugar sculptures at an exhibition of traditional Chinese art and appreciated the traditional musical performance by Chinese musicians, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Chinese Net users welcomed Ivanka’s visit to the Chinese Embassy. One Net user wrote on Weibo, «She [Ivanka] is wiser and more sensible than her father.» Another said, «Her father made a mistake, and now she is trying to fix it.»
«Diplomatically, Donald Trump doesn’t want to be friendly to China, but his family may want to maintain business ties,» read a comment from guancha.cn, a Chinese news website.
«Donald Trump wants to maintain his tough image to show his supporters that he will not change his attitude toward China, but his daughter can be more flexible,» said Jin Canrong, associate dean of the Department of International Studies at the Renmin University of China.
«Although Ivanka can’t officially represent the US government, this activity is unusual,» Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Thursday.
«In the past, US president’s New Year greetings were normally addressed to Chinese Americans because they can vote for them, but Ivanka’s appearance at the Chinese Embassy amounts to a direct greeting to China,» Xin said.
Trump’s views on China expressed during his campaign and his transition period were mostly provocative and offensive. He vowed to slap a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods and spoke of using the one-China policy as leverage to bargain with China on trade.
‘Happy New Year to Trump’
Although Donald Trump didn’t say anything to the Chinese people, Chinese entrepreneurs sent greetings to him and the US people.
According to the South China Morning Post on Tuesday, 100 Chinese companies have «gone against the tide» and seized the opportunity of Chinese New Year to express their goodwill to the new US president, who has vowed to impose steep tariffs on Chinese products.
«A large billboard sponsored by 100 Chinese companies is up and shining in New York’s Times Square, wishing Trump and the US people a «happy Chinese new year,» the South China Morning Post reported.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to China nominee Terry Branstad said Wednesday that he would play a constructive role in enhancing the China-US relationship.
If China and the US, as the world’s largest developing and developed countries, can improve their relationship and continue to build friendship and trade, Branstad believed it can benefit the entire world.
China and the US are closely intertwined in economic and trade fields, so a trade war between the two countries will not benefit anyone, and these Chinese firms also want to deliver this message to Trump by sending greetings even if he is not very friendly to China, said Diao Daming, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
«So far, Trump hasn’t done anything to change the interdependence between the two countries, but if he fulfills his promise of punishing China on trade, it will harm both sides by bringing more conflicts and tensions. But the question remains as to what extent China can use interdependence to bring about this change in the stance of Donald Trump remains to be seen,» Diao stressed.