China approves Donald Trump-branded spas, escort services, hotels and massage parlours without US Congress permission
Preliminary approval has been granted for 38 trademarks which raises further questions about conflicts of interest
Chinese authorities have granted preliminary approval for dozens of Trump-branded businesses, expanding his commercial empire and raising further conflicts of interest, say lawyers.
The 38 trademarks include new hotels, spas, escort and concierge services, massage parlors, personal security services and insurance, according to public documents.
The President’s lawyers applied for the trademarks in April last year, at the same time the then Presidential candidate Trump was accusing China of "ripping off" the US and deliberately manipulating its currency to its own advantage.
If there is no objection, the trademarks will be formally registered after 90 days.
Ethics lawyers argue that if the Trump trademarks receive any special treatment due to their association with the President, it would violate the US Constitution, which prohibits those in public office from accepting anything of value from foreign governments, unless they are approved by Congress.
Congress has not approved the China trademarks.
Norm Eisen, who served as chief ethics lawyer for former President Barack Obama, told The Independent that the initial registration of a long-denied Trump trademark "certainly seems to run afoul of the foreign emoluments clause" of the US Constitution.
"I anticipate that these issues will enter into our litigation," he said.
"When Trump is profiting from these valuable Chinese benefits [...], how can we be sure he will advance US interests in his engagements with that country, for example by staunching the flow of American jobs out from the US to China?"