Donald Trump and Republican Senate candidates have been running a campaign of China bashing since early this year. They have been trying to extend this China bashing to their Democratic opponents, even though many of these Republicans have financial ties to China themselves. See, While GOP hits Mark Kelly over China ties, Martha McSally had investments too.
Maybe McSally should be whining about her boy Donald Trump instead.
The New York Times, which is in possession of Donald Trumps tax records over a portion of the last 20 years, is out with another analysis of his tax returns. Trump Records Shed New Light on Chinese Business Pursuits (excerpts):
President Trump and his allies have tried to paint the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., as soft on China, in part by pointing to his son’s business dealings there.
Senate Republicans produced a report asserting, among other things, that Mr. Biden’s son Hunter “opened a bank account” with a Chinese businessman, part of what it said were his numerous connections to “foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe.”
But Mr. Trump’s own business history is filled with overseas financial deals, and some have involved the Chinese state. He spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company.
And it turns out that China is one of only three foreign nations — the others are Britain and Ireland — where Mr. Trump maintains a bank account, according to an analysis of the president’s tax records, which were obtained by The New York Times. The foreign accounts do not show up on Mr. Trump’s public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names. The identities of the financial institutions are not clear.
The Chinese account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management L.L.C., which the tax records show paid $188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015.
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[The Trump] campaign has tried to portray Mr. Biden as a “puppet” of China who, as vice president, misread the dangers posed by its growing power. Mr. Trump has also sought to tar his opponent with overblown or unsubstantiated assertions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings there while his father was in office.
In a misleading claim amplified by surrogates like his son Donald Trump Jr. and his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president has said the younger Mr. Biden “walked out of China” with $1.5 billion after accompanying his father on an official trip in 2013. Numerous news articles and fact-checking sites have explained that the huge figure was actually a fund-raising goal set by an investment firm in which Hunter Biden obtained a 10 percent stake after his father left office. The firm did receive financial backing from a large state-controlled bank, but it is not clear the fund-raising target was ever met, and there is no evidence Hunter Biden received a large personal payout.
As for the former vice president, his public financial disclosures, along with the income tax returns he voluntarily released, show no income or business dealings of his own in China.
However, there is ample evidence of Mr. Trump’s efforts to join the myriad American firms that have long done business there — and the tax records for him and his companies that were obtained by The Times offer new details about them.
As with Russia, where he explored hotel and tower projects in Moscow without success, Mr. Trump has long sought a licensing deal in China. His efforts go at least as far back as 2006, when he filed trademark applications in Hong Kong and the mainland. Many Chinese government approvals came after he became president. (The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump also won Chinese trademark approvals for her personal business after she joined the White House staff.)
In 2008, Mr. Trump pursued an office tower project in Guangzhou that never got off the ground. But his efforts accelerated in 2012 with the opening of a Shanghai office, and tax records show that one of Mr. Trump’s China-related companies, THC China Development L.L.C., claimed $84,000 in deductions that year for travel costs, legal fees and office expenses.
After effectively planting his flag there, Mr. Trump found a partner in the State Grid Corporation, one of the nation’s largest government-controlled enterprises. Agence France-Presse reported in 2016 that the partnership would have involved licensing and managing a development in Beijing. Mr. Trump was reportedly still pursuing the deal months into his first presidential campaign, but it was abandoned after State Grid became ensnared in a corruption investigation by Chinese authorities.
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It is difficult to determine from the tax records precisely how much money Mr. Trump has spent trying to land business in China. The records show that he has invested at least $192,000 in five small companies created specifically to pursue projects there over the years. Those companies claimed at least $97,400 in business expenses since 2010, including some minor payments for taxes and accounting fees as recently as 2018.
But Mr. Trump’s plans in China have been largely driven by a different company, Trump International Hotels Management — the one with a Chinese bank account.
The company has direct ownership of THC China Development, but is also involved in management of other Trump-branded properties around the world, and it is not possible to discern from its tax records how much of its financial activity is China-related. It normally reports a few million dollars in annual income and deductible expenses.
In 2017, the company reported an unusually large spike in revenue — some $17.5 million, more than the previous five years’ combined. It was accompanied by a $15.1 million withdrawal by Mr. Trump from the company’s capital account.
On the president’s public financial disclosures for that year, he reported the large revenue figure, and described it only as “management fees and other contract payments.” One significant event for the company that is known to have occurred in 2017 was the buyout of its management contract for the SoHo hotel in New York, which Bloomberg reported to have cost around $6 million.
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Outside of China, Mr. Trump has had more success attracting wealthy Chinese buyers for his properties in other countries. His hotels and towers in Las Vegas and Vancouver, British Columbia — locales known for attracting Chinese real estate investors — have found numerous Chinese purchasers, and in at least one instance drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
During the 2016 campaign, a shell company controlled by a Chinese couple from Vancouver bought 11 units, for $3.1 million, in the Las Vegas tower Mr. Trump co-owns with the casino magnate Phil Ruffin. The owner of a Las Vegas-based financial services firm told The Times he was later visited by two F.B.I. agents asking about the company behind the purchases, which he said had used his office address in incorporation papers without his knowledge. It is not known what became of the inquiry.
In Vancouver, numerous Chinese buyers of units in Mr. Trump’s hotel and tower helped increase licensing fees from that project to $5.8 million in 2016, the year it was completed, according to tax records. The project was built by a Canadian-based firm controlled by the family of one Malaysia’s richest men, Tony Tiah Thee Kian, who operates hotels in China and elsewhere. CNN reported in 2018 that the Vancouver operation was the subject of a counterintelligence review related to Ivanka Trump’s need for a security clearance.
And not long after winning the 2016 election, Mr. Trump reported selling a penthouse in one of his Manhattan buildings for $15.8 million to a Chinese-American businesswoman named Xiao Yan Chen, who bought the unit, previously occupied by Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, in an off-market transaction. Ms. Chen runs an international consulting firm and reportedly has high-level connections to government and political elites in China.
Mr. Trump’s tax records show that he reported a capital gain of at least $5.6 million from the penthouse sale in 2017, his first year as president.
Jonathan Chait in a commentary writes, Alleged China-Fighter Donald Trump Has Secret Chinese Bank Account:
President Trump has spent months insisting Joe Biden is in hoc to China. “China is on a massive disinformation campaign because they are desperate to have Sleepy Joe Biden win the presidential race,” Trump tweeted last spring. “Beijing Biden is so weak on China that the intelligence community recently assessed that the Chinese Communist Party favors Biden,” claimed his son, falsely, this summer. More recently, he has seized upon hacked emails purporting to show financial links between Biden and China.
But Biden does not have financial ties to China. We know this because he released his tax returns. Trump has not released his tax returns. But the New York Times has obtained at least some of them. And they found that Trump has a Chinese bank account, and suggest he has collected earnings from that country while serving as president.
The Chinese bank account belongs to Trump’s subsidiary firm, Trump International Hotels Management. While in previous years the firm has reported small sums, in 2017 — Trump’s first year in office — it reported $17.5 million in revenue, a large spike.
The returns obtained by the Times do not show how much of that money came from China. The Trump Organization refuses to say. But the dealings it found suggest a massive conflict of interest between his foreign policy and his wallet. And while Trump postures angrily against Beijing, threatening to “make them pay” for allowing the coronavirus to infect their country and then the world, somehow, nobody believes he has any way to do this.
The objective of Trump’s stream of charges is meant to muddy the waters and confuse the public with a flurry of identical charges and counter-charges [This is Steve Bannon’s theory of disinformation: “flood the zone with shit.“] He called his last opponent corrupt, and he calls his current opponent corrupt. The charge that Biden has secret ties to China, and that China is helping him win, is intended to offset the no-longer-secret relationship between Trump and Russia, which is exerting itself on its behalf with the open cooperation of his lawyer. But now we see the accusation serves a second purpose: It obscures Trump’s own undisclosed financial relationship with China.
Donald Trump and “princess” Ivanka have financial conflicts of interest in China. The media should be talking about this, not amplifying the Trump Campaign-Russian Intelligence disinformation campaign against Hunter Biden. That is just a distraction from the “true crime” machinations of the Trump crime family.
UPDATE: At a drive-in rally in Philadelphia moments ago, President Barack Obama said:
“We know that he [President Donald J. Trump] continues to do business with China because he’s got a secret Chinese bank account,” Obama said. “How is that possible? How is that possible? A secret Chinese bank account. Listen, can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election? You think — you think Fox News might have been a little concerned about that? They would have called me Beijing Barry.”
“It is not a great idea to have a president who owes a bunch of money to people overseas. That’s not a good idea.”