Chinese Government Paid Millions to Trump-Owned Properties During His Presidency

The Chinese government and state-controlled entities spent over $5.5 million at properties owned by Donald Trump during his tenure as president, marking the highest total of payments by any single foreign country to date. Financial documents cited in a report from House Democrats revealed that these payments included millions from China's Embassy, a state-owned Chinese bank accused by the US Justice Department of aiding North Korea in evading sanctions, and a state-owned Chinese air transit company. The documents were obtained from Trump's former accounting firm, Mazars USA.

The House Democrats' report indicates that China is one of 20 countries that collectively made payments totaling at least $7.8 million to Trump's businesses and properties, including hotels in Washington DC, New York, and Las Vegas. While the records offer additional evidence of foreign governments directly spending money on a sitting president's businesses, they do not present a comprehensive account of all foreign payments to Trump's businesses during his presidency.

Despite promises to donate foreign profits from his hotels to the US Treasury Department, the Trump Organization's reported donations in 2017 and 2018 fell significantly short of the estimated foreign payments received by his properties. Trump's decision not to divest himself of corporate assets before taking office allowed him to potentially profit from his businesses with limited transparency.

The Democrats argue that the additional accounting records raise concerns about potential efforts to influence Trump through his companies while he was in office. They highlight an instance where Trump refrained from imposing sanctions on the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), which leased property at Trump Tower in New York. The ICBC had been accused by the Justice Department in 2016 of conspiring with a North Korean bank to evade US sanctions.

The House Oversight Committee Democrats point out that, despite calls from Republican members of Congress to apply maximum pressure on Chinese banks involved with North Korea, Trump did not sanction ICBC. The bank, as confirmed by Mazars records, continued to lease property in Trump Tower at least until 2019, raising questions about the potential influence of these financial transactions on Trump's policy decisions.

When questioned about China's payments to Trump-owned properties, the Chinese Embassy spokesperson emphasized non-interference in internal affairs and refrained from commenting on US domestic politics. The spokesperson reiterated that Chinese companies operating overseas are expected to adhere to local laws and regulations, emphasizing mutual benefits in China-US economic and trade cooperation and opposing the politicization of these issues by the United States. 

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