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China grants Trump 38 provisional Trademarks - Is it ethical?

Recently, 38 Trump Trademarks were provisionally approved by China. Public documents show these Trademarks to be for a range of businesses, including hotels, spas, restaurants, finance and real estate companies, bodyguards and escort services.

Under normal circumstances, this wouldn't raise concerns with the U.S. government - or even filter onto its radar. When the Trademarks are associated with the President, however, it raises some ethical questions for many people.

Although he may not intend to develop these businesses in China, as many companies register Trademarks defensively to keep others from using them, it still raises red flags. If Donald Trump received special treatment or consideration when securing these Trademarks, it could be a violation of the US Constitution. Specifically, public servants are not allowed to accept anything of value from foreign countries, unless it is approved by Congress.

"A routine trademark, patent or copyright from a foreign government is likely not an unconstitutional emolument, but with so many trademarks being granted over such a short time period, the question arises as to whether there is an accommodation in at least some of them," said Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer for President George W Bush.

"If the president is receiving these flows of benefits from China, how can he be trusted to staunch the flow of jobs from the United States to that country?" said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer for President Obama.

Trump has assigned all of his business interests into a trust, and most of these Trademarks are registered to DTTM Operations LLC and Scion, a hotel brand run by his sons. But he still stands to benefit from the success of these enterprises.

This is just one aspect of the investigation into President Trump's alleged conflicts of interests. And time will tell what the outcome will be for these Trademarks. As an unprecedented case, it remains anyone's guess.

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