As President Donald Trump's official adviser and a close confidant, his daughter has a wide portfolio of duties. Because of the importance of the relationship between her father's administration and China, the question of whether Ivanka Trump speaks Chinese is one that bears asking.
Ivanka's been exposed to multiple languages at different stages of her life, though it's unclear if Mandarin is one of them. In 1989, her mother, Ivana, said that Ivanka (and her brothers) learned to speak French while in school. Ivanka also apparently understands Czech, but tweeted that she really only know Czech curse words.
Multilingualism is a skill it seems she's trying to pass onto her children as well. Arabella, Ivanka's oldest daughter, for example, has taken to Mandarin. Arabella sang a song in Mandarin for Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visited in April 2017, for which Newsweek went so far as to call her "a star" in China for her language skills. Ivanka also posted a celebratory message on Instagram for Chinese New Year in February 2017 featuring Arabella, and a photo of her youngest son, Theodore, playing with blocks with Chinese characters.
Despite her daughter's early grasp of Mandarin, Ivanka has not indicated that she can speak the language, even when meeting President Xi.
In the past, there have been questions about her fluency in Spanish as well, especially ahead of her visit to South America. Those questions were somewhat answered during an interview with a Spanish-language newspaper that she responded to in English.
Ivanka's apparent lack of fluency in Mandarin hasn't hurt her popularity in China, however. In April 2017, The New York Times ran a feature of young professional women in China who see Ivanka as a role model. “She’s pretty, she has her own career, she’s hardworking and she has a beautiful family,” 26-year-old student Wang Ge told The Times. “She inspires me.”
Ivanka's popularity remains despite questions of the sourcing of her handbag and shoe lines. China Labor Watch, a nonprofit organization based in New York, accused the factory in China that produces her line's products of paying its workers low wages and excessive overtime hours in June 2017. Three activists investigating the factories for the nonprofit organization were detained and later released, according to The New York Times.
The brand said the last shoes in this factory were made in March, according to The Times. When asked by The Times to comment on the activists' detention and release, the Ivanka Trump brand declined. In June 2017, the Ivanka Trump brand president Abigail Klem gave a written statement to USA Today. "Our licensee works with many footwear production factories and all factories are required to operate within strict social compliance regulations," according to the statement.
As she transitioned into a role in the White House, Ivanka divested from her business interests to focus on political matters. Thus far, Ivanka has taken on numerous roles relating to international relations, which means skills in multiple languages would be helpful.
Ivanka represented the United States at the Winter Olympics closing ceremony in South Korea in early 2018 and she spent most of her first year at the White House making headlines for her attempts at diplomatic roles as well. For example, the 36-year-old briefly took her father's seat at the G20 session in Hamburg, Germany in July 2017, sparking widespread criticism. The table was filled with leaders from the world's super powers, including Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, and Theresa May, according to The Guardian.
Because of her clear interest in diplomatic work and efforts on international issues like human trafficking, it makes sense that Ivanka would want to expand her language abilities. But it remains to be seen if Mandarin will be in her language wheelhouse anytime soon.