BEIJING: While media coverage of Donald Trump’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping Thursday focused on trade and North Korea, it was the wide-eyed crooning of the US leader’s granddaughter that stole Chinese netizens’ hearts.
In a video that Trump showed Xi during their stroll through the historic Forbidden City Wednesday, his granddaughter, Arabella Kushner, greets “Grandpa Xi and Grandma Peng (Liyuan)” with several Mandarin ballads and a recitation of ancient Chinese poetry.
China’s Xinhua state news agency, which circulated the clip widely on social media, reported that Xi said the six-year-old girl’s Mandarin skills deserved an “A+”.
The Chinese public agreed, according to Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
“As a little ambassador of Chinese-American friendship, Arabella has already received the love of a vast number of Chinese people,” Hua said during a regular press briefing Thursday.
“This kind of special arrangement is actually very sweet and warm-hearted. We believe that this has helped to further bring closer the affection and distance between the Chinese and American people.”
Arabella also played a starring role at the state dinner organised by Xi in Trump’s honour at the Great Hall of the People on Thursday night.
The full video, which Trump brought as a gift for Xi, was played on screens in the room, earning her a mention in her grandfather’s toast.
“Our children so often remind us of our shared humanity and true dignity,” Trump, 71, said.
Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, was filled with praise for Arabella’s performance Thursday, though it was unclear how many comments related to Trump’s visit had been censored.
“She’s too cute!” users gushed. “Let’s hope that she marries into a Chinese family.”
Others made light of the fact that apparently no one can avoid the arduous task of memorising ancient Chinese poetry — not even the US president’s granddaughter.
It’s not the first time Arabella has played a role in Sino-American diplomacy.
When Xi visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Florida resort in April, Arabella recited for Xi the “Three Character Classic”, a time-honoured text from the Song Dynasty that was also included in her latest clip.
Ivanka Trump, Arabella’s mother and a White House adviser, has said in interviews that her children have a Chinese nanny who teaches them Mandarin.
Ivanka Trump frequently posts videos of Arabella speaking or singing in Chinese to her social media accounts, and she brought her daughter to a Lunar New Year event organised by the Chinese embassy in Washington.