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Trump has 'secret' China bank account, new report claims

Simon Foy
·2 min read
Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Donald Trump spent years cultivating business projects in China, where he maintained a previously unknown bank account, the New York Times reported.

The president also had an office in the authoritarian state during his first run for president and had ties to a major government-controlled company, according to the report.

The bank account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management and paid local taxes between 2013 and 2015. It was uncovered during an analysis of Mr Trump's tax records by the newspaper. 

The tax records show that the company "paid $188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there". Mr Trump also has bank accounts in the UK and Ireland. 

Previous reports from the New York Times show he paid $750 (£580) in US federal taxes in 2016 and 2017, when he became president.

Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organisation, said the newspaper's latest story was "pure speculation" and said that it made "incorrect assumptions".

He added that Trump International Hotels Management "opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes".

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

Additionally, Trump Hotel Collection negotiated with the country's largest state-owned enterprise, State Grid Corporation of China, to brand and manage a major development in Beijing, sources told AFP. The bid was later abandoned.

During his term in office, the president has painted China as the greatest threat to the US and launched a massive trade war with the world's second largest economy. Recently, he has blamed the country for failing to stop the spread of Covid-19 after it originated in Wuhan late last year. 

However, his tax records show previously undisclosed business ties in China, including an unsuccessful attempt in 2008 to launch office tower project in Guangzhou, the New York Times said. In 2012 he opened an office in Shanghai.

In August, Mr Trump said he would impose tariffs on any company that leaves the US to create jobs elsewhere, and threatened to strip government contracts from firms that continued to outsource work to China.

The revelation also comes after the president promoted an unsubstantiated claim on the campaign trail that his Democratic rival Joe Biden's son Hunter sold access to his father in Ukraine and China when he was vice-president.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said: "I am not aware of the situation. China is always firmly opposed to anyone in the US exploiting China in the US election." 

Mr Biden's income tax returns and financial dealings show no business connection to China.