US President Donald Trump’s guarded communication approach with China could be mended through a relationship with his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Chinese officials believe.
According to The New York Times, China has established solid “back channel” ties to senior advisor Mr Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, to help communicate its interests.
It comes as President Trump is poised to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping for two days of meetings in Florida on Thursday, orchestrated by Mr Kushner and Chinese ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai.
“Since Kissinger, the Chinese have been infatuated with gaining and maintaining access to the White House,” Obama administration senior director for Asia Evan Medeiros told the NY Times.
“Having access to the president’s family and somebody they see as a princeling is even better.”
President Trump has previously accused China of unfair trade and currency policies during the presidential election, and has threatened to undermine Taiwan’s One China Policy when he took office. He has also taken a strong stance on China’s relationship with North Korea.
But reports claimed President Trump has eased his position, believed to be due to Mr Kushner’s influence.
“China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Mr Trump said in an interview with The Financial Times that was published on Sunday.
“And if they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.”
The New York Times reported that Mr Kushner’s deep involvement in China relations dated back to February, after he reportedly set up a peace-making phone call between the two Presidents.
Since then, Mr Cui invited Mr Kushner’s wife Ivanka Trump and daughter Arabella to a reception at the Chinese Embassy to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
However, officials state, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has taken lead on policy with China, and made the majority of decisions in orchestrating the upcoming meeting.
In March, Mr Tillerson visited Mr Xi in Beijing to discuss a potential meeting with President Trump.
However, Mr Kushner has also reportedly passed on proposals from Mr Cui to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, before it was circulated to the State Department.
President Xi and Mr Trump agreed to hold in informal meeting at Trump’s golf club Mar-a-Lago rather than a more official venue.