Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – It turns out the real reason why Donald Trump agreed to save the U.S. business of Chinese telecom giant ZTE — which was banned from doing business with U.S. firms for seven years — was because China had invested over $500 million in an Indonesian project that will personally enrich Trump.
Trump’s stunning decision to bailout ZTE was taken a scant 72 hours after the Chinese government agreed to spend a massive amount of money in the developer of a theme park resort called Lido City outside Jakarta. The deal with China saw the developer, the MNC Group, receive $500 million in Chinese government loans, and a further $500 million from Chinese banks.
Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, has a deal to license the Trump name to the resort, which includes a golf course and hotels.
The MNC Group confirmed it had struck a deal with an arm of Metallurgical Corporation of China, a state-owned construction company, to build a theme park next door to the planned Trump properties.
Both the theme park and the Trump-branded hotel and 18-hole golf course are being developed by Indonesian billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo, head of the MNC Group. These properties were packaged together as part of a $500 million complex called Lido City, which MNC is marketing as an “integrated lifestyle resort and theme park.”
Trump mentioned none of these in his tweet that announced his intent to save Chinese jobs or in his follow-up tweets. Trump’s original tweet on May 11 read: “President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!”
Trump’s next tweet on Monday read: “ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from U.S. companies. This is also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi.”
The new tweet, however, didn’t even bother to address the question of the Indonesian resort and the Trump Organization’s profiting from it thanks to Chinese investment.
The flagrant conflict of interest and violation of the emoluments clause also confirms Trump hasn’t totally divested himself of his businesses, and continues to profit from them. “This appears to be yet another violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” said Richard Painter, the White House ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush, referring to the prohibition against the president receiving payments from foreign governments. “You do a good deal for him (Trump), he does a good deal for you. Quid pro quo,” said Painter.
ZTE phones were banned as a security risk by the U.S. military and intelligence community. Two weeks ago, the military banned their use on bases for fear they could be used to track the locations of service members.
ZTE Corporation is 33 percent owned by Chinese-government-owned enterprises. It was fined $1.2 billion in 2017 after it was found to be violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. After it was determined that ZTE officials had lied about their actions, the U.S. government last month banned it from purchasing U.S. components for seven years — a decision that essentially forced the company to shut down.
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