Why is Everyone Asking if China Just Bribed Trump?
If you’ve paid attention to the news lately perhaps you’ve heard people questioning whether China just bribed Trump, but what exactly is the issue?
The centerpiece of the issue is ZTE, a Chinese electronics company that has struggled since it came to the attention of the U.S. that it was violating sanctions and selling electronics to Iran and North Korea. In March of 2017, ZTE plead guilty to violating sanctions and agreed to pay the U.S. $1.6 billion in fines.
Last month the U.S. Commerce Department decided ZTE had violated its settlement with the U.S. because ZTE didn’t punish its executives but instead gave them bonuses. As punishment for violating the settlement, the Commerce Department forbade American technology companies from selling products to ZTE for seven years.
As the Washington Post reported, the Pentagon also banned sales of ZTE phones on military bases over concerns China could use them to spy on the U.S.
Our intelligence agencies have warned that ZTE technology and phones pose a major cyber security threat. You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs. https://t.co/7Ygh7805jg
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 13, 2018
Despite Trump’s repeated hard-line stance on Iran and despite the fact that Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran deal, Trump tweeted support for ZTE despite its history of violating sanctions and getting in trouble with the U.S.
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
Trump’s support for ZTE despite the controversy around the company raised eyebrows, and many turned to look at Indonesia. Just days two days before Trump’s May 13, tweet of support for ZTE the South China Morning Post published an article announcing a $500 billion deal that involves the Chinese government and the Trump organization.
The deal is over the Lido City development, a mini-luxury city in Indonesia with Trump properties and hotels there. An amusement park is in development there and Chinese state-owned company, Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), signed a deal with the Indonesian company, MNC Land, to build a theme park and bring with it $500 billion in Chinese government loans.
The issue is the Lido City development is a project belonging to two companies, MNC Land and the Trump Organization. Talking Points Memo reported, a corporate financial/promotional document for MNC says the company “is currently developing the MNC Lido City project; both theme park and smart city — in partnership with The Trump Hotel Collection (emphasis added).”
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that “marketing materials for MNC Lido City refer to the theme park and Trump properties as flagship elements of the development, and corporate filings and internal documents show the Trump Organisation and the president’s two sons have been directly involved in various stages of its planning.”
The SCMP adds that negotiations on the deal began before Trump’s 2016 election.
Still, China just pledged $500 million to a luxury development project in Indonesia that references the project’s “Trump Community” just two days before Trump announced support for a failing and often illegal Chinese electronics company.
Was Trump forewarning us when he once famously said, “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”