On Sunday, Donald Trump surprised his own advisers and reversed U.S. policy by announcing on Twitter that he wanted to lift U.S. sanctions on the Chinese telecom company ZTE. On Monday, Trump explained that the move was in part a personal favor to China’s president, Xi Jinping.
In what may or may not be related news, the Agence France-Presse news service is reporting that a Chinese company agreed last Thursday to build a theme park at a major Indonesian development project that is set to include Trump-branded hotels, residences, and a golf course—and that will be funded in part by $500 million in Chinese government loans.
The AFP’s report is written ambiguously, and other outlets are interpreting it to mean that Chinese entities are contributing a total of $1 billion, but here’s my read of the timeline and details:
• In 2015, an Indonesian company called MNC agreed to work with the Trump Organization on the “MNC Lido Park” luxury residence/resort development. The development, which is near Jakarta, is set to include a number of Trump-branded properties in addition to other projects.
• In June 2016, the Indonesian company announced that it had signed a “letter of initial intent” with a Chinese company called MCC—yes, it’s a deal between “MNC” and “MCC”—to build a theme park at MNC Lido Park. This tentative deal included $500 million in loans from Chinese banks.
• In November 2016, Trump got elected, after which he promised that his company would not engage in further international developments—but that anything that it had already been working on would go forward.
• Last week, the MNC-MCC theme park deal, including the Chinese loans, was finalized.
So, it doesn’t appear that we’re talking about $500 million in Chinese going to the Trump Organization directly. But it also obviously benefits Trump to lock in what had previously only been a tentative commitment on the Chinese government’s part to develop such a major component of a complex in which he has a financial interest.
Oh, and word is that the theme park will be “an immersive world of magic and adventure” featuring “a variety of thrill rides and adventures interwoven with original stories and themes from Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage.” Sounds fun!