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Trump development inks multi-million dollar deal with Chinese firm, violating campaign pledge

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Despite President Trump’s promise that his company would not do any deals with foreign business entities during his time in office, one of his business partners has reportedly entered into a contract with a Chinese construction firm to build a six-lane road as part of the Trump World Golf Club Dubai project, McClatchy reported on Monday. The project, formerly called Akoya Oxygen, is set to open in 2018.

According to McClatchy, the contract was awarded by DAMAC Properties to a Middle East subsidiary of China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC). DAMAC Properties is a Trump Organization partner charged with all development aspects of the joint effort; the Trump Organization is responsible for the project’s branding aspects.

The DAMAC-CSCEC contract is valued at $32 million.

“Sustaining momentum from the successful launch of the Trump International Golf Club Dubai at DAMAC Hills, work has been steadily progressing at DAMAC Hills as the community takes shape,” Senior Vice President Mohammed Tahaineh said in a release in March. “…Working with established companies comes as part of our commitment to delivering the best value to our customers, while strengthening the real estate offerings of Dubai through world-class designs, service and construction quality.”

When contacted by The Hill, a spokesperson for the Trump Organization claimed that CSCEC was “appointed by DAMAC to undertake some infrastructure work and to build one of their hospitality developments” and was “totally unrelated” to the Trump Golf Club. The road in question, however, is reportedly related to the golf club’s residential development, the Trump Estates at DAMAC Hills. According to a Trump Estates brochure, the residential project was “conceptualised by Trump and developed by DAMAC properties.”

The majority government-owned CSCEC has also reportedly signed an official Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday, related to a $2.17 billion contract for “44 new high and low rise buildings and 150 villas,” in Dubai Motor City, which sits directly across from DAMAC Hills, according to state-run Chinese news agency, Xinhua. It’s unclear whether the newly signed MoU is related to any future Trump Estates residences or projects. Spokespersons for the Trump Organization and DAMAC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Both of Trump’s sons have praised the organization’s relationship with its UAE partners in the past and hinted that the two companies would continue working together in the future. During a speech at the DAMAC Hills project launch in February, Eric Trump lauded the resort as “probably the best golf course in the Middle East” and said that DAMAC chairman Hussain Sajwani’s family was “truly amazing.”

“I just love working with them,” Eric said.

Donald Jr. also thanked Sajwani for his partnership, adding, “We’re looking forward to working with you for many years to come.”

The DAMAC-CSCEC contract flies in the face of previous promises made by the president: Trump initially promised his business would make “no new deals…during [his] term(s) in office”, he later amended his statement in a January press conference, limiting that stipulation to “new foreign deals” only, as outlined in a document released by his lawyers.

“Specifically, the Trust and The Trump Organization will be prohibited at all times during the Presidency from engaging in any new deals with respect to the use of the ‘Trump’ brand or any trademark, trade name, or marketing intangibles associated with The Trump Organization or Donald J. Trump in any foreign jurisdictions,” the document states.

In addition, the Trump Organization claimed it would drop pending projects in Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, India and Saudi Arabia, according to Politico. Any ongoing projects were justified as “merely the fruition of existing deals,” The Atlantic’s Jeremy Venook noted in August. Trump’s sons would run the company in his absence.

The president also promised to donate profits from foreign government sources at his properties, although internal documents unearthed in May showed that the Trump Organization had done very little to actually track those profits, which present a considerable conflict of interest.

In that same January press conference, Trump bragged that he had turned down an opportunity from a business entity in Dubai, supposedly due to his organization’s newly-minted promise not to engage in future foreign dealings.

“Over the weekend, I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai with a very, very, very amazing man, a great, great developer from the Middle East, Hussein Damack, a friend of mine, great guy,” Trump claimed. “And I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai—a number of deals—and I turned it down. I didn’t have to turn it down, because as you know, I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president…. But I don’t want to take advantage of something.”

According to McClatchy, CSCEC “was one of several accused by the World Bank of corruption for its role in the bidding process for a roads project in the Philippines and banned in 2009 from World Bank-financed contracts for several years.” The outlet noted that, while the Trump Organization receives royalties from projects that bear its name—like the Trump Estates residences—it does not necessarily have direct input on who the developer hires.

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