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A wave of Chinese trademark applications filed by Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka has raised fresh concerns over whether the Trump family’s business interests may unduly influence foreign relations.
At least 14 applications were filed by Ms Trump’s business, which bears her name, on 28 March, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal last week.
Ms Trump’s business, which specialises in high-end clothing, shoes and accessories, said that the applications were filed to prevent others from profiting from her name rather than any intention to boost sales in China.
But Larry Noble, general counsel for US watchdog group Campaign Legal Center, told CNN on Monday that the revelations highlight how the Trump administration may still be allowing its business interests to influence US relations with other countries. “China knows that to deny these applications would get a negative reaction from the President, and to expedite their approval would get a positive reaction from the President,” Mr Noble said, adding that Ms Trump's company could “stand to lose a lot if these applications are denied”.
The Chinese government has insisted that its trademark review practices are carried out in accordance with the law.
Attorneys for Ms Trump did not respond to a request for comment from CNN on Mr Noble’s remarks.
The latest trademark requests follow the 36 applications that the company filed in China last year around the time when Ms Trump joined her father’s administration as a White House adviser.
Although Ms Trump no longer has a management role at her company, she reportedly retains an ownership stake and therefore still could benefit from the company’s profits despite her attorney insisting that her assets had been moved into a trust.
Ms Trump’s company has said that the applications constitute “normal course of business” and were made in response to a “surge” in unrelated third parties attempting to adopt the Ivanka Trump name for themselves, according to CNN.
But Mr Noble said that Ms Trump should either have sold her entire stake or removed her company from foreign markets in order to avoid conflicts of interest.
“When you go into government, you make sacrifices,” he said. “When you're a public servant you're supposed to give 100 per cent of your attention to your work. You're supposed to have the American public as your sole interest.”
In April, China provisionally approved three new trademarks for Ms Trump’s company on the same day she met with ChinesePresident Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.
Ms Trump’s business currently has 18 registered trademarks in China and five provisionally approved, according to CNN.