Trump company paid over S$255,000 in taxes in China between 2013 & 2015: NYT

Overseas deals.

Sulaiman Daud | October 21, 2020, 07:40 PM

A report from the New York Times (NYT) claims that U.S. President Donald Trump's business dealings in China include a bank account, and his company paid taxes there between 2013 and 2015.

The amount paid was US$188,561 (S$255,464). On Sep. 27, NYT reported that he paid US$750 in federal income tax in one year in the U.S. in 2017.

The report on Trump's China dealings stems from an investigation into the same trove of the president's financial records, which were obtained by NYT.

Account in China to explore hotel deals

The Chinese account is operated by Trump International Hotels Management LLC, a subsidiary of the Trump Organization.

NYT quoted a lawyer representing the Trump Organization, Alan Garten, who said that the company opened an account with a Chinese bank which had offices in the U.S., so as to do business in China.

The company established an office in China to explore the possibility of "hotel deals" in Asia, including licensing deals.

However, according to Garten:

"No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialised and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive... Though the bank account remains open, it has never been used for any other purpose."

NYT added:

"It is difficult to determine from the tax records precisely how much money Mr. Trump has spent trying to land business in China. The records show that he has invested at least US$192,000 in five small companies created specifically to pursue projects there over the years."

Trump and Biden's stances on China

The report of Trump's dealings in China come at a time when he is seeking to portray himself as the candidate tougher on China than his presidential election opponent, Joe Biden of the Democrats.

Trump previously engaged in a bruising trade war with the Asia-Pacific giant, and signed legislation requiring sanctions against Chinese officials involved in the crackdown in Hong Kong, and the banks they deal with.

Trump has also blamed China for the Covid-19 pandemic, calling it the "China plague" and saying China must be "held accountable".

He has also accused Biden of being soft on China.

In the first presidential debate, he said that Biden labelled his closing of the borders to Chinese travellers as xenophobic, a claim which is disputed.

However, Biden has also accused Trump of being too soft on China during the Covid-19 response, CBS reported in April 2020.

And while Biden has said he will "review" trade policy if he wins, he has also not ruled out ending tariffs on China, reported Japan Times.

"I will use tariffs when they are needed, but the difference between me and Trump is that I will have a strategy -- a plan-to use those tariffs to win, not just to fake toughness," Biden said.

The NYT report might become an election issue, with the pro-Biden group The Lincoln Project tweeting the following:

Trump's allegations about Hunter Biden's China dealings

More recently, Trump has attempted to tie Biden's son Hunter to business dealings in China, alleging that the younger Biden "walked out with US$1.5 billion in a fund".

Hunter Biden owns 10 per cent of a private-equity firm called Bohai Harvest RST (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Co.

The firm is mainly controlled and funded by Chinese government-owned shareholders, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

However, there is no evidence that Hunter personally received a large payout, NYT said.

Hunter's spokesperson, speaking to WSJ, said that he has yet to recoup his original investment in the company.

"The firm’s business registration shows Mr. Biden’s paid-in capital was about US$425,000 (S$576,106)," said WSJ.

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