Sunday tweet from Trump:
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
ZTE was being sanctioned by the United States for violating the US sanctions against Iran. And suddenly, Trump wanted that ban lifted. and everyone was like, uh… that’s a very sudden shift in policy. And since when do we care about jobs lost in China?
Even Trump’s advisers were surprised.
Trump responded to questions with another tweet:
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 14, 2018
If we are in the process of negotiating a trade deal, why is this being done NOW? Or… why are we doing “personal” favors for Xi now?
And then we learn from the Agence France-Presse news service is that a Chinese company agreed last Thursday to build a theme park at a major Indonesian development project that is set to include Trump-branded hotels, residences, and a golf course—and that will be funded in part by $500 million in Chinese government loans.
Now it appears that this theme park was in the works for a while. In 2015, an Indonesian company called MNC agreed to work with the Trump Organization on the “MNC Lido Park” luxury residence/resort development. The development, which is near Jakarta, is set to include a number of Trump-branded properties in addition to other projects. And in June 2016, the Indonesian company announced that it had signed a “letter of initial intent” with a Chinese company called MCC—yes, it’s a deal between “MNC” and “MCC”—to build a theme park at MNC Lido Park. This tentative deal included $500 million in loans from Chinese banks.
So, it doesn’t appear that we’re talking about $500 million in Chinese going to the Trump Organization directly. But it also obviously benefits Trump to lock in what had previously only been a tentative commitment on the Chinese government’s part to develop such a major component of a complex in which he has a financial interest.
Furthermore, the TIMING is odd. Trump talks tough about anyone who supports Iran, but then — days later — lifts sanctions against a Chinese company that helped Iran? And he does it just days after a China deal goes through that clearly helps his company?