Trump, Confucius, and China’s Vision

In the Chinese media, Jared Kushner’s name almost never appears without the title diyi nǚxu, or First Son-in-Law. But, from a Chinese perspective, First Son-in-Law, as a job description, supersedes even Kushner’s official role as a senior adviser to Donald Trump, and the myriad jobs which that role has come to encompass, from bringing peace to the Middle East to handling relations with, among other countries, China. The position surpasses, in both influence and stature, the limits of any formally designated office.

Recently, the First Son-in-Law’s family appears to have been testing the boundaries of influence by marriage. Kushner’s sister Nicole Kushner Meyer went to Beijing seeking a hundred and fifty million dollars’ worth of financing for 1 Journal Square, a Kushner Companies luxury-apartment development in Jersey City. According to Javier C. Hernández, of the Times, during an information session at the Ritz-Carlton, Meyer said that the project “means a lot to me and my entire family.”

That remark drew sharp criticism in the Western media, and the Kushner Companies announced that family members would no longer appear at investor events in China. Chinese bloggers, in contrast, viewed the episode with a wry calm. “The Kushners are enterprising and the White House is a now a family business—what’s the fuss?” a Shanghai college student wrote on Weibo. “The seat of power is always a family business but for the first time the White House is also a billionaires’ social club!” a middle-aged man, using the name Midnight Observer, noted. A twenty-eight-year-old from Xi’an compared the situation to South Korea’s chaebol culture—the ecosystem of family-owned business empires that contributed to the downfall, last month, of President Park Geun-hye—and wrote, “All democracies are run like…

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