South China Morning Post had reported Tanoesoedibjo’s Indonesia company, MNC Group, had received $500 million of funding from the Chinese government and banks for the theme park, which will be situated next door to planned properties and a golf course developed by the Trump Organization.
The report drew controversy, given the current strains between Washington and Beijing.
Asked whether his company had received $500 million of Chinese funding, Tanoesoedibjo said in a text message “not true” and stated that MNC had only appointed Chinese Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) as a contractor.
A subsidiary of Chinese state-owned construction firm Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) signed a deal last week with the Indonesian firm MNC Land to build an “integrated lifestyle resort,” as part of Beijing’s global influence-expanding “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative.
The project in Indonesia will include a number of Trump-branded hotels, a golf course, and a residence. While the $500 million loan will not be directly allocated to any of the Trump-branded features, Beijing’s contribution of half the project’s total operating budget ensures the success of the broader theme-park venture.
The Trump properties are considered flagship elements of the theme park, according to MNC marketing materials, and internal documents obtained by Agency France-Presse show Trump’s sons have been directly involved in its planning in Indonesia.
Though negotiations began prior to Trump’s election and his pledge to cease engaging in new business dealings with foreign governments, the project raises questions about the extent to which the Trump organization is dependent on Beijing amid contentious trade negotiations with the U.S.
“Even if this deal is completely and entirely above board, it simply furthers the perception of impropriety” surrounding Trump’s business dealings, Christopher Balding, an economics professor at Shenzhen’s HSBC Business School, told AFP. “Especially with the potential trade war, this is not a good look….Critics will be entirely right to demand answers.”
Trump refused to divest his Trump Organization holdings upon taking office, much to the consternation of government-ethics experts, opting instead to place his holdings in a blind trust and hand over control of the business to his sons.