China has granted trademark approvals for 16 products comprising fashion accessories and other items to Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump’s daughter, and White House adviser. The approvals come even though she already announced she’s shutting down.
The approvals illustrate the conflict of interest concern many have raised about Donald Trump and his family business interests and how they impact national policy and interactions with foreign powers like China.
Chinese government records show that the trademark applications received preliminary approvals in October. Such decisions usually become final after a three-month public comment period.
The applications mostly related to fashion items like shoes and handbags but one was for an unspecified item in a category connected to electronic devices and gadgets like voting machines, cameras, telephones, and semiconductors.
The trademark approval was originally reported by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit group that has previously sued the President over his business interests.
The trademarks are not a new occurrence for Ivanka’s brand. She has previously earned a series of trademarks for a vast array of products, including in late May – when the White House was engaged in serious negotiations with Beijing.
Her business representative explained the approval, in that case, was routine to protect her brand and had nothing to do with her position in the White House.
‘We have recently seen a surge in trademark filings by unrelated third parties trying to capitalize on the name and it is our responsibility to diligently protect our trademark,’ said Abigail Klem, who was then the president of the Ivanka Trump brand.
Earlier this year during Trump’s visit to Asia, he visited China on talks about both countries trade relations and was given a red carpet treatment.
What seemed like a chummy affair between Xi Jinping and Trump ended up in smoke as talks failed and ushered in a trade war that has worsened since then.
The Trump administration subsequently slapped steep tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports.
China has retaliated by imposing tariffs on $110 billion of American products. Tensions have also been growing in other areas between Washington and Beijing, from the military to intelligence and diplomacy.
Speaking at a United Nations meeting in September, President Trump claimed, without offering evidence, that China was trying to interfere with the US midterm elections.
‘They do not want me, or us, to win, because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade, and we are winning on trade,’ he said. ‘We don’t want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election.’
Despite this, the Trump Organization, the family business, being run by the president’s son have had many trademarks approved by Beijing since after Donald Trump’s victory.
A fact that ethics expert thinks suspicious, asserting that Beijing is trying to influence the president through these trademark approvals. China has vehemently dismissed these assertions, stating that it’s authorities only approve trademark applications that adhere to the legal requirements.
President Trump is being sued by the governments of Washington DC and Maryland on claims that his continued interest in the Trump International Hotel, which has become a gathering place for foreign governments with business before the administration, puts him in violation of a constitutional clause banning presidents from accepting gifts from foreign governments.
A federal judge last week allowed discovery to proceed in that case, meaning Trump will have to turn over business records associated with the hotel.