She is known as the “Goddess Yi Wan Ka” in China. There’re more Chinese women than American women who are inspired to go under the knife to look like her. They wanted her big eyes, her pretty nose and lips, and her flawless figure. But it wasn’t only her beauty that has gotten her a bigger celebrity status in China than back home in the United States.
Her lavish lifestyle and so-called business acumen resonate with young Chinese professionals who are hungry for fame and fortune. Young Chinese women look up to Ivanka as a leader and a symbol of power and ambition. Ivanka’s 5-year-old daughter, Arabella, has been a superstar in China ever since a viral video of her speaking Mandarin gained nearly 100 million views.
In Germany, however, the First Daughter isn’t very much welcomed, let alone adored and worshipped the same way the Chinese do. Ivanka Trump had been speaking for less than five minutes on Tuesday before the jeersstarted coming from the audience. The First Daughter of the United States had come to Berlin for a roundtable discussion on the empowerment of women.
As her father – President Donald Trump – is about to push a plan to slash the corporate income tax rate to 15% from 39.6%, and allowing multinationals to bring in overseas profits at a tax rate of 10% versus 35% now, Ivanka was struggling in a land that prides itself on meritocracy. Germany was her first international trip as a member of her father’s presidential team.
Surrounded by other powerful women such as Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund, and of course, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it didn’t take long before the hisses and boos started coming from the audience when she referred to President Donald Trump as a “tremendous champion” of women’s rights.
The Germans were particularly humiliated by how Ivanka’s father had treated their chancellor. Although Merkel has screwed up in every possible way one can imagine in welcoming refugees / migrants with open arms, the people of Germany don’t think Ivanka is on par with Merkel, a doctorate in quantum chemistry who is referred to as the world’s most powerful woman.
Who the heck is Ivanka Trump to be given a seat sharing a stage with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the W20 Summit? How dare she refer his father as a great champion of women’s rights after the U.S. president’s sexist and vulgar remarks about women? Understandably, Ivanka is, first and foremost, her father’s daughter. Therefore, she is going to defend him – as would almost every daughter.
Like it or not, Merkel has no other choice but to suck up to Ivanka in order to gain access to White House. From the start, Trump administration has been cold toward Berlin. Even during his campaign for the presidency, Trump repeatedly used Merkel as a punching bag – calling her refugee policy a “catastrophic mistake” and accusing the Chancellor of “ruining Germany.”
The relations didn’t improve after Trump’s election victory. His transition team refused to let the State Department mediate contacts with Merkel. It got so bad that Merkel’s office was forced to seek advice from Henry Kissinger, the German-born former U.S. Secretary of State, who advised the Chancellery to contact the Trump administration through Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner.
Kushner, who now holds the title of senior adviser to President Trump, then helped arrange Merkel’s first meeting last month with the Trump administration in Washington. Dramatically, while posing for a photo in the Oval Office, Merkel repeatedly asked Trump to shake her hand for the cameras, and the President did not respond. Trump just couldn’t get himself to like Merkel.
It would take a special seating arrangement, where Chancellor Merkel was seated beside Ivanka during a summit with U.S. and German business leaders, to break the ice. Realizing the influence that both Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have over the U.S. President, Merkel snatched the opportunity and invited the First Daughter to join the panel at the W20 summit in Berlin.
Unfortunately, not many German women believe Ivanka deserves her place. Inga Meyer, a 49-year-old creative director said – “I think it’s outrageous. Why does she have the power and the position to meet Angela Merkel? It’s not clear exactly what her position is. She obviously has more power than what her official role suggests.”
President Donald Trump is highly unpopular in Europe, particularly in Germany. Only 6% people said they had confidence in him when it came to world affairs. But it was nepotism that Trump promotes and allows in his administration which raises questions about Ivanka. And it’s the same reason that led to the raining of jeers and boos on the First Daughter.
Sandra Toepke, a 35-year-old employee of International Film Festival, said – “It’s pure nepotism that she’s in that position. She’s partaking in negotiations at the White House and has security clearance.” Thyra Guenther-Luebbers, a 21-year-old college student, said – “Would she be so successful if it weren’t for her last name? I don’t think so.”
However, a man’s meat is another man’s poison. Ivanka, a graduate of Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania who went into the family business after a brief modelling career, could simply whisper to her father’s ears to get things done. And that’s precisely what Merkel wants from her new ally – First Daughter Ivanka Trump.
By Eric Trump’s own admission, the U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on a Syrian airbase primarily because President Trump was influenced by the reaction of a “heartbroken and outraged” Ivanka. If Ivanka’s tears could move the commander-in-chief for a military attack, despite lack of proof Assad gassed his people, imagine what Merkel could do with Ivanka on her side.
Like her or hate her, 35-year-old Ivanka Trump is learning fast the rope of the political world as an unpaid presidential adviser. With access to classified information, which was highly unusual for the daughter of a president, Ivanka and his husband are the most influential powerbroker on planet Earth. For now, the public perception of her is that she’s nothing but an empty vessel.
Ivanka has a long way to go to prove that she is capable of becoming the U.S. first woman president, if that was her secret ambition to begin with. She needs to show that she could articulate independently and convincingly, not relying on prepared scripts. She needs to prove she’s not daddy’s baby who could only cry to get her toys. Until then, boos and hisses are what she’ll get.