Beyond Russia, Trump’s Business Ties in China Raise Questions

While most of us have been focused on Trump’s ties to Russia, there was an interesting development with his business interests in China.

The government of China awarded U.S. President Donald Trump valuable rights to his own name this week, in the form of a 10-year trademark for construction services.

The registration became official on Feb. 14 and was published in a trademark registration announcement on the website of China’s Trademark Office on Wednesday…

The registration this week came as a surprise win for Trump after a decade of trying — and failing — to wrest the rights to his name back from a man named Dong Wei. The abrupt turn in Trump’s bureaucratic fortunes once he declared his candidacy has raised questions about the extent to which his political status may be helping his family business.

Trump’s relationship with China raises a lot of questions. While he spent much of his campaign attacking the country for their trading practices and his chief strategist assumes we will go to war in the South China Sea, the Trump Organization makes a lot of its apparel and home products in that country.

But even more important are the questions raised by this statement from the Steele dossier.

Commenting on the negative media publicity surrounding alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election campaign in support of Trump, Source E said he understood that the Republican candidate and his team were relatively relaxed about this because it deflected media and the Democrats’ attention away from Trump’s business dealings in China and other emerging markets. Unlike in Russia, these were substantial and involved the payment of large bribes and kickbacks which, were they to become public, would be potentially very damaging to their campaign.

We now know that “Source E” in those documents is Sergei Millian, a nationalized American citizen who ran the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce and once claimed to be an “exclusive” broker for the Trump Organization’s real-estate dealings in Russia. In addition we also know this about Millian:

Millian, on his LinkedIn page, says he is the Vice President of the World Chinese Merchants Union Association. He wrote last April that he traveled to Beijing to meet with a Chinese official and the Russian ambassador to the Republic of San Marino. The dossier claims Source E — allegedly Millian — had knowledge of Trump’s business dealings in China.

Recently David Corn wrote a profile of Millian, suggesting that “investigators on the Trump-Russia beat should talk to this man.” I agree. To the extent that the Steele dossier is correct, he seems to be the link not only to Trump’s ties with Russia, but the president’s business dealings in China – which were even more of a concern to Trump and his team.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.