HONG KONG - US President Donald Trump's son- in-law Jared Kushner did not accept an invitation from the Chinese to go to Beijing this month (Sept ) for a visit that some expected would be in preparation for the US leader's visit to China, reported New York Times.
A US official said on Tuesday Trump is likely to make a stop in China in November during his first official visit to Asia.
White House officials said no visit by Kushner was ever scheduled, and hence, none was cancelled - a claim China specialists gave short shrift, reported The Guardian newspaper.
Bill Bishop, a well-connected Washington-based China expert who authors the Sinocism newsletter, said: "They were definitely talking about it."
Kushner, who helped broker the first meeting between Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping in Florida in April, was once expected to function as a high-level conduit between the two countries.
But experts say Trump's visit to Beijing needs to be arranged through the proper channels rather than relying on his own family, reported Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.
But in a sign that Kushner will continue to play a prominent role on China policy, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday (Sept 14) Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi met him and US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster at the White House on Wednesday.
Both sides exchanged views on China-US relations as well as international and regional issues of common concern.
They agreed to strengthen communication at all levels, expand cooperation, work together to well prepare for Trump's state visit to China later this year at Chinese President Xi Jinping's invitation, and promote the sound and stable development of bilateral relations.
Yang met US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, when he stopped over in Washington after visiting Jamaica.
Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies in the Asia programme at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said John Kelly, the chief of staff of the White House, did not think Kushner would be an appropriate channel even though he helped establish contacts between China and US officials in the past.
The preparation for Trump's visit should be made through appropriate channels, for example, through Chinese state councillor Yang Jiechi, Paal told SCMP in a report published on Wednesday.
"Channels need to be maintained by responsible and accountable officials," he said.
Wang Yiwei, an international relations expert from Renmin University in Beijing, said Kushner was not in the right position if his planned trip was to prepare for President Trump's China visit.
That job is traditionally done by the US Secretary of State or National Security Adviser, Wang told SCMP.
Kushner is facing growing controversy at home. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that some of Trump's lawyers have said the 36-year-old should step down from the White House because of possible legal complications relating to an investigation of Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
L iu Weidong, a US affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told SCMP it was understandable that Kushner would help to connect Beijing and Washington in informal meetings, including the first encounter between the two presidents in April.
"But Trump's visit to China is totally different. It's formal and needs to be set up via diplomatic channels," he told SCMP.
He added it was not a good time for Kushner to visit China when his credibility was being questioned in the US.
"If he does, people in the US would wonder whether the first family has some secret deals with China that only benefit Trump's family."
The 'Javanka couple', who are popular among Chinese netizens, have drawn fierce criticism back home for their links with China.
Ivanka Trump's clothing company has applied for trademarks in China, and products branded with her name have been manufactured by Chinese companies.
Kushner's family has also come under attack for touting a visa programme earlier this year to raise funds from Chinese investors for a real estate project in New Jersey. Kushner sold his stake in Kushner Companies to a family trust early this year.