Of the numerous trademarks China issued to White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump late last year, one was particularly eyebrow-raising: a trademark for voting machines.
According to The Washington Post, the trademark was granted along with 15 others on October 13, just as U.S. and Chinese officials were looking to re-enter trade negotiations that had previously chilled.
The approvals are a reminder of the Chinese government’s knack for making uncannily timed decisions when it comes to Trump family businesses — even if it’s just coincidence, as Chinese experts say.
The October decisions were the largest batch of approvals for Ivanka Trump since her father entered the White House, and they came as he was locked in a trade standoff with China, according to Caroline Zhang of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) in Washington, who first pointed out the updated filings.
Other trademarks issued to the president’s daughter included “senior homes and veterinary services, as well as for batteries, wedding gowns and sausage casings,” bringing Ivanka’s total number of approved applications to more than 30.
The timing of the Chinese government’s approvals has led some to question whether China is attempting to sway official business with decisions that benefit the Trump family personally.
Jordan Libowitz of CREW, the ethics watchdog, said the group’s data showed that some Ivanka Trump applications have taken even longer to process.
“We obviously do not know the reason behind the timing, although some others have suspiciously lined up with events involving the Trump administration,” Libowitz said.
In May, China awarded Ivanka Trump seven trademarks around the same time that President Trump worked to save a Chinese state-owned telecom equipment maker when it was on the verge of going bust from U.S. sanctions. Last year, Ivanka Trump’s clothing line received three trademarks on the same day she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Ivanka shut down her fashion line shortly after, in July, but not everyone believes the move also shuts down the possibility of improperly benefiting from the position she holds.
Ethics experts argued that the moves would lay the groundwork for Ivanka Trump to pursue lucrative business opportunities in China after her father leaves office. They said this poses conflicts of interest for the White House regardless of whether she is stepping away from her company.