“In a matter of days, she became the president’s newest ambassador to China, a woman who was in charge of two of the most important diplomatic relationships in the world.”
—President Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff John Kelly.
“She was a woman with a clear vision,” he said of Ariel Silks, who was appointed by Trump to lead the White House Office of American Engagement (OAEE) in November.
“And when she became ambassador to Beijing, it was because she had a clear agenda for the world.
It was an opportunity to move the United States forward on behalf of the United Nations, on behalf to the region, on issues of security, and the economy.”
Kelly also praised Silks for her role in the OAEU, describing her as “a world-class negotiator and strategist” who “knows how to get things done.”
Kelly, who is now White House press secretary, said Silks was “very good at getting things done, which is important to the president.”
“I was proud of her,” Kelly said of Silks.
“It was not a question of her being a woman; it was a question about her being an exceptional diplomat.”
When Kelly was White House Chief of Staff in February 2019, he said he was “tired of seeing women in positions of power and leadership” but he said Silbs appointment was “one of the things that really surprised me.”
The next day, Trump tweeted that he was proud to have “a woman in the office of ambassador to the Chinese People’s Republic” and that Silks “will bring tremendous value and expertise.”
“In a time of crisis, Ariel will be a great asset for the President as he takes his Administration to new heights,” he added.
“Ariel will also have tremendous value as a negotiator.”
Silks was a Trump appointee from 2013 to 2016, serving as deputy chief of mission in Beijing from 2014 to 2016.
After her appointment, she was promoted to chief of the Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs, and became OAE-China’s deputy envoy in November 2017.
Silks worked as an ambassador to India, Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, the UK, and Turkey.
She also served as deputy ambassador to Norway.
“She has tremendous expertise in diplomatic engagement and the ability to be both a globalist and a nationalist,” Kelly added.
Silsk’s appointment came a day after the United Arab Emirates announced it was severing diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom, citing its “unacceptable behavior.”
Silsk was the first African-American to hold the position of OAE president.
The OAE is the only agency of the U.N. that has a direct bilateral relationship with China.