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Trump records show Chinese business pursuits, bank account: NYT

NYT report also shows he had a bank account there, from which he paid taxes in China

WASHINGTON Mr Donald Trump spent years cultivating business projects in China, where he maintained a previously unknown bank account, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, as the US President attempts to portray election rival Joe Biden as weaker on Beijing.

Mr Trump has spent recent days promoting a murky claim that Mr Biden's son, Hunter, sold access to his father in Ukraine and China when he was vice-president under Mr Barack Obama.

It is Mr Trump, however, who maintained an office in China during his first run for president and partnered with a major government-controlled company, the Times reported.

Mr Trump additionally keeps a previously unknown bank account in China, controlled by Trump International Hotels Management, according to an analysis of his tax records by the paper.

It is one of only three foreign nations - including Britain and Ireland - in which he does so.

The tax records show the company "paid US$188,561 (S$255,560) in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015," the Times reported.

Trump Organisation lawyer Alan Garten said the company had "opened an account with a Chinese bank having offices in the United States in order to pay the local taxes".

"No deals, transactions or other business activities ever materialised and, since 2015, the office has remained inactive," he told The Times. "Though the bank account remains open, it has never been used for any other purpose."

Under his America First banner, Mr Trump has portrayed China as the greatest threat to the US and democracy.

He has launched a massive trade war that has cost China billions of dollars, harangued Chinese tech firms and laid blame for the coronavirus pandemic with Beijing.

Even so, in 2008, Mr Trump attempted an ultimately unsuccessful office tower project in Guangzhou, and in 2012, he opened a Shanghai office, the Times said.

Additionally, Trump Hotel Collection negotiated with the State Grid Corporation of China - an electricity company, and the country's largest state-owned enterprise - to brand and manage a major development in Beijing, sources told AFP. But the bid was later abandoned.

NINE-POINT LEAD

Mr Biden's income tax returns and financial dealings meanwhile show no business connection to China.

Meanwhile, Mr Biden holds a nine-point lead over Mr Trump amid public alarm about the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic and demand among voters for large-scale government action to right the economy, according to a poll of likely voters conducted by The New York Times and Siena College.

With just two weeks left in the campaign, Mr Trump does not hold an edge on any of the most pressing issues at stake in the election, leaving him with little room for a political recovery absent a calamitous misstep by Mr Biden, the Democratic nominee, in the coming days.

The President has even lost his longstanding advantage on economic matters: Voters are now evenly split on whether they have more trust in him or Mr Biden to manage the economy.

On all other subjects tested in the poll, voters preferred Mr Biden over Mr Trump by modest or wide margins.

Mr Biden also has a large cash advantage over his rival. At the end of last month, his campaign had US$177 million in cash, nearly triple the US$63 million held by the Trump campaign.

- AFP, REUTERS

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