A representative from the Trump Organization paid a visit to Taoyuan in September, expressing interest in the city’s Aerotropolis, a large-scale urban development project aimed at capitalizing on Taoyuan’s status as a transport hub for East Asia, Taiwan News reports. With the review process for the Aerotropolis still underway, Taoyuan’s mayor referred to the subject of the meeting as mere investment speculation. Other reports indicate that Eric Trump, the president-elect’s second son and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, will be coming to Taoyuan later this year to discuss the potential business opportunity.
Trump’s globe-spanning business ventures have drawn criticism for their potential to create conflicts of interest while he is in office. Although the president and vice president are bothexempted from federal conflicts of interest law, almost everyone who has held the office of president over the past 50 years has turned over their assets to be managed by an independent trustee after being elected. Under this financial arrangement, called a “blind trust,” the president would have no knowledge of the trustee’s actions or investments, allowing him to make decisions with a higher degree of impartiality.
However, President-elect Trump has broken with this tradition through his pledge to turn over management of his company to his children Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr. after he assumes office. While Trump and his children have still referred to this arrangement as a “blind trust,” this decision has several obvious flaws, mainly that it is not “blind” at all. Adding to this ethical quagmire is the Trump childrens’ presence on their father’s White House transition team, which recently asked the government if the family members could receive top security clearance.
"And this is Ivanka. She manages my blind trust…" pic.twitter.com/C4F9ZeKJu5
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) November 18, 2016
Fortunately she kept her eyes closed the whole time to preserve the blind trust. https://t.co/JzoHHsJr79
— Matt Ford (@fordm) November 18, 2016
While Trump’s inauguration is still a few months away, his practices of nepotism and attachment to his business don’t seem to be waning anytime soon.
In the meantime, we’ll have to wait and see what Trump’s business interests mean for future US-Taiwan relations. While no one really knows how the president-elect will manage cross-strait policy, most experts believe that Trump taking office could harm Taiwanese exports considering his isolationist rhetoric during the campaign, in which he vowed to bring more jobs back to the United States.
By Avery Davenport