As speculation into President Donald Trump’s foreign financial ties and tax returns continues, a new owner of a $15.8 million penthouse in Trump Tower has ties to Chinese Intelligence.
A Mother Jones report revealed that the woman previously thought to be a business owner whose company claims to connect powerful people to broker business deals in China has ties to Chinese Intelligence. Mother Jones asked if this deal between Trump and Angela Chen was nothing more than a real estate acquisition or an attempt to garner favor with the Trump administration. Chen refused to say.
However, further investigation revealed that Chen is also known as Xiao Yan Chen and Chen Yu and chairs the US arm of a nonprofit organization called the China Arts Foundation. Started in 2006 by the youngest daughter of a revolutionary Chinese leader, the organization has ties to the rich and powerful in China as well as military intelligence service members.
There’s even a term for the daughter’s status: princeling, which refers to children of high-ranking Chinese officials or officers who are now powerful in their own right in business and politics. Deng is also a vice president of the China Association for International Friendly Contacts (CAIFC), an affiliate of the intelligence and foreign propaganda division of the armed forces of the Communist Party of China.
A Virginia think tank that focuses on national security policy in Asia pointed out the CAIFC’s leadership is mostly retired (some current) Chinese military and government officials. Executive director Mark Stokes wrote the foundation has become “an important channel of access to [Chinese Communist Party] princelings.” It apparently influences perceptions of China and hopes to “influence policies of foreign governments, particularly related to defense and national security.”
The China Arts Foundation says that it is nothing more than a promoter of cultural exchange between the U.S. and China. Yet, the day following the inquiries from Mother Jones, the website suddenly went offline as did their Facebook page, so Mother Jones pointed to an archived version.
Chinese experts explained that the organization does legitimate outreach about the arts and cultural exchanges but has been seen as a part of Chinese military intelligence. One George Washington University professor outright called CAIFC a branch of the intelligence bureau of the People’s Liberation Army. A Congressional committee that studied U.S.-China relations outright labeled the CAIFC as “a front organization for the International Liaison Department of the People’s Liberation Army’s General Political” in a report.
When former Bill Clinton was asked to speak to CAIFC and the China Arts Foundation Nov. 2012, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s staff seemed uncomfortable with the idea saying that they’d have to look into it further. The former president eventually backed out of the event.
The purchase of the penthouse was the first “deal” done by Trump since he was elected President of the United States. Despite claims he’d put all of his businesses in a blind trust, Trump is still the owner of the company that sold Chen the penthouse.
“You shouldn’t be asking these questions about a president,” said Norm Eisen, former President Barack Obama’s lead ethics lawyer.
Neither Trump’s CFO nor Chen responded to requests for comment.