Almost a week after China’s second-biggest telecom equipment maker ZTE was forced to cease its major operations after the United States banned local firms from selling hardware and software to the telecommunication giant for 7 years, President Donald Trump sent out a rather surprising tweet claiming he was working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to save the telecom company.
President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2018
The move surprised many and people wondered what could have caused Trump’s sudden change of heart as he had been promising to “get tough” on China even before taking the office.
Well, it appears the sudden decision to save Chinese jobs could have something to do with a $500 million loan by China to build a theme park in Indonesia that would (surprise, surprise) feature a “Trump-branded golf course and hotels,” according to a report by the National Review.
Apparently, a Chinese state-owned construction firm signed a contract to build a lifestyle resort with an Indonesian firm. The said resort will reportedly include “a number of Trump-branded hotels, a golf course, and a residence.”
The report clarified Beijing did not particularly invest in any of the Trump Organization-linked features but the whole resort.
Unsurprisingly, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah had a hard time answering questions about the apparent conflict of interest and if the said deal violates the Constitution.
Asked about Chinese government's involvement in a Trump Organization project in Indonesia and if that violates the emoluments clause, Raj Shah says, "I'll have to refer you to the Trump Organization... you're asking about a private organization's dealings." pic.twitter.com/3R2vjEHe32— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 14, 2018
“The Trump Organization is involved in a project in Indonesia building hotels, golf courses, residences — it is getting up to $500 million in backing from the Chinese government,” Los Angeles Times reporter Noah Bierman asked Shah during the press briefing.
“Can you explain the administration’s position on A, how this doesn’t violate the emoluments clause; and B, how this wouldn’t violate the president’s own promise that his private organization would not be getting involved in new foreign deals while he was president?” he added.
Shah’s response: “I’ll have to refer you to the Trump Organization.”
However, Bierman didn’t let it deter him, as he told Shah the organization “can’t speak on behalf of the president as the president — the head of the federal government, the one who is responsible, who needs to assure the American people, and they don’t have that responsibility.”
But the deputy secretary remained adamant.
“You’re asking about a private organization’s dealings that may have to do with a foreign government. It’s not something I can speak to,” he asserted.
This is not the first time the commander-in-chief has come under fire for his conflicts of interest. Just recently, Qatari government purchased a $6.5 million apartment in the Trump World Tower – the fourth unit purchased by the foreign government.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Jason Lee/ Reuters, Jonathan Ernst