Who are the top people advising Trump on foreign policy

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump pauses as he speaks in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, about the mass shooting in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


Rex Tillerson 

U.S. Secretary of State. Tillerson is a former CEO of ExxonMobil. Tillerson entered the Trump administration with no previous political experience. He supports tougher sanctions on the DPRK. He has been sharply critical of some Chinese policies, but he is a pragmatist who in a recent speech in Washington said the U.S. “seeks constructive relations with China.” 

Photo: www.state.gov


Susan Thornton 

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. An Obama-era appointee, her position has not yet been confirmed. She is considered a “globalist”—a world view that sharply contradicts the “America First” economic nationalism embraced by many of Trump’s closest advisors. Having lived in Beijing and Chengdu, China, Thornton speaks Mandarin, as well as Russian. 

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner,  attends a wreath laying ceremony on Nov. 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)


Jared Kushner

Senior Adviser to the President and son-in-law. Among his many unofficial responsibilities is U.S. diplomacy with China. He reportedly organized President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s April summit at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, Florida. Kushner’s young daughter, Arabella, sang in Mandarin and recited Tang Dynasty poetry for the Chinese leader and his wife, Peng Liyuan. 

Photo: ustr.gov

Robert Lighthizer 

U.S. Trade Representative. Lighthizer is considered a China trade deficit “hawk” and a seasoned tactician in trade disputes. Lighthizer suggested the U.S. should increase the number of cases it brings against China at the World Trade Organization. China filed its own WTO complaint against the U.S. and EU last December, seeking full “market economy status” under WTO rules. 

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross speaks at the annual CBI conference in London, Monday Nov. 6, 2017. (John Stillwell/PA via AP)

Wilbur Ross

U.S. Commerce Secretary. After his September 2017 meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, Ross said the China-U.S. trade relationship was “lopsided.” He said he raised concerns about the trade imbalance and gaining greater access to China’s financial markets. Premier Li said he hoped the United States “relaxes restrictions on exports of high-tech products to China.” 

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster speaks to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

H.R. McMaster 

National Security Adviser and active duty U.S. Army three star general. McMaster is in the Trump Administration’s “globalist” camp. He was primarily responsible for organizing Trump’s trip to Beijing. He is also considered a moderating influence in The White House, though he also said he believes there is a military option for the U.S. against the DPRK. 

Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Stephen Miller

Senior Policy Adviser, is considered a Trump administration hardliner. One of Trump’s most trusted aides, he often writes the President’s speeches, and is the architect of Trump’s controversial travel bans against Muslim majority countries. 

White House Senior Counselor for Economic Initiatives Dina Powell. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Dina Powell

Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy. Powell is considered an administration rising star. A former Goldman Sachs banker who previously worked in the George W. Bush administration, Powell also serves as Trump’s senior counselor for economic initiatives. A Coptic Christian born in Egypt, Powell speaks Arabic. She has a lot of government experience, but little-to-no Asia background. 

Pool photo by Lintao Zhang

Matthew Pottinger

National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs. Pottinger is Trump’s senior policymaker for the region. He favors toughness with China. Pottinger led the U.S. delegation to the Belt & Road Forum in Beijing. A former U.S. Marine Corps officer and journalist, Pottinger worked as a China correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. He speaks fluent Mandarin. 

Not on the Asia Trip


U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks on Nov. 4, 2017. (Dawn J. Sagert/The York Dispatch via AP)

Mike Pence

U.S. Vice President. Pence is said to be involved in most matters of this administration, including foreign policy. Earlier this year, Pence visited Asia, making stops in Japan and South Korea. Pence said he believes the Chinese government is cooperating with the U.S. on the DPRK, but thinks Beijing can do more. 

 (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

James Mattis 

U.S. Secretary of Defense. Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, has emerged as one of the principal architects of U.S. foreign policy in Asia Pacific. He favors a diplomatic solution for the Korean peninsula. Mattis also supports a U.S.-India strategic partnership to counter what he says is a growing China-Russia-Pakistan axis. 

Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 9, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

General Joseph Dunford 

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In foreign policy, the flip-side of diplomacy is force. In 2017, the Pentagon’s top officer signed an agreement with his Chinese counterpart to improve communications between the two militaries. Dunford also made a rare visit to Chinese forces responsible for securing China’s border with the DPRK. 

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks in Simi Valley, California, on November 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J,. BROWN

Steve Mnuchin 

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Gary Cohn

Steve MnuchinU.S. Treasury Secretary and Gary Cohn – Director of the National Economic Council. Both are former Goldman Sachs executives and pro-business moderates. Under Mnuchin, the U.S. Treasury Dept. imposed sanctions against a Chinese bank, accusing it of laundering money for the DPRK. Mnuchin declined to label China a currency manipulator, as did Cohn. 


Peter Navarro 

Director of the White House National Trade Council. Navarro is among the administration’s most vocal China critics. Navarro is the author of “Death by China,” a 2011 book that accuses China of currency manipulation and abusive trade policies. Navarro advocates economic confrontation with China. He now reports to Cohn, who supports a less confrontational approach. 

Ivanka Trump, adviser to and daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, attends a meeting in Tokyo Friday, Nov. 3, 2017. (Kim Kyung-hoon/Pool Photo via AP)

Ivanka Trump 

Special Assistant to the President. Ivanka is the President’s daughter, and wife of Jared Kushner. Ms. Trump accompanied her father to the G20 in Germany in July, surprising many when she took her father’s empty seat a meeting with world leaders. Her fashion line has a production partner in China.