Complex With New Trump Golf Club Will Get Chinese Help

Posted June 15, 2018 11:01 a.m. EDT

A new Trump-affiliated real-estate project in Dubai will feature an 18-hole golf course designed by Tiger Woods, extensive greenery and hundreds of luxury villas. A company controlled by Beijing will help make it a reality.

The Dubai partner of President Donald Trump’s real-estate company said this week that it had awarded China State Construction Engineering Corp. a $20 million contract to develop part of the 55 million square foot property. Under the deal, China State Construction will help build the roads and infrastructure linking up the complex, called Akoya Oxygen.

Among its other amenities, the Akoya Oxygen project will include a Trump-branded golf club. The Trump World Golf Club Dubai will feature restaurants, high-end practice facilities and a well-stocked pro shop, according to the developer, DAMAC Properties, a Trump Organization partner in the Middle East that has helped generate millions of dollars in income for the president.

“Love of the game,” DAMAC said in its marketing material, “will go way beyond the fairway!”

The deal with the Chinese company, known as CSCEC, was made by DAMAC, andthe Trump Organization said that CSCEC had “no role in the development or construction of Trump World Golf Club.”

“The Trump Organization licenses the Trump brand name to DAMAC and has agreed to manage the golf course,” Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, said.

Still, the deal represents the second time in a month that a Chinese state-controlled company has won business working on a project affiliated with the Trump brand. The deals have raised fresh questions about potential conflicts of interest for the president and his real-estate company, which has dealings from Bali to Scotland.

DAMAC and CSCEC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The new deal builds on previous infrastructure work the Chinese company has done on the project affiliated with the Trump brand. It is also building a luxury 53-floor apartment building overlooking the Dubai canal as part of a separate DAMAC project.

The company’s most recent deal with DAMAC was reported earlier by McClatchy.

It comes just a month after the Trump Organization’s partner in Indonesia signed a contract with an arm of a Chinese state-owned company.

The transactions strike at the heart of what critics say are conflicts of interest as Trump continues to hold on to his real-estate business even as he serves in the White House. The Trump Organization pledged not to engage in any new deals overseas while Trump was in office.

Democrats and others have accused him of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which is supposed to prevent government officials from accepting benefits from foreign states.

Trump promised to stay away from his business while he was in office, but has also said that it would be too punitive for him and his investors to have to divest from his company completely.

Both the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers have said the accusations of violating the Constitution are groundless.

Trump has profited greatly from his business dealings with DAMAC and its chairman, Hussain Sajwani, who is sometimes called the Donald of Dubai.

Trump was paid $2 million to $10 million by DAMAC in 2016 for Trump Organization golf properties in Dubai. He also continues to benefit from them via management fees. In 2017, he personally earned $141,433 in fees, according to his most recent financial disclosure. In 2016, he earned $12,984 in fees. At a New Year’s Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago resort last year, Trump called Sajwani and his family “the most beautiful people.”

Just a few months later, Sajwani and Trump’s son Donald Jr. dined together in Dubai. Sajwani posted a photo of the two together on his Instagram account and said they discussed “new ideas and innovation.”

Donald Jr., and Eric, Trump’s second son, attended the wedding of Sajwani’s daughter in April.

The Trump family’s business dealings in projects related to China have come under scrutiny because the United States has threatened to levy tariffs on as much as $150 billion in Chinese-made goods as part of an escalating trade dispute with Beijing.

At the same time, some American lawmakers are trying to block a lifeline Trump has extended to ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company that faced shutting down after Washington officials blocked its access to U.S. technology.

CSCEC is one of China’s largest construction firms. It has recently expanded its business around the world. In New York City, its U.S. subsidiary China Construction has become a familiar player in public works projects including the renovation of the Alexander Hamilton Bridge and the West Eighth Street-New York Aquarium subway station in Brooklyn.