Trump calls his banker. Image source: SupChina illustration
The Politico article discussed below has been updated with a comment from the Bank of China: “Bank of China has not had any ownership interest in that loan since late November 2012.” The Bank of China said that a 2017 document listing it as a secured party having a financial interest in one of Trump’s portfolio buildings was a “technical error.” Politico corrected its headline to the past tense: “Trump owed tens of millions to Bank of China.”
Eleven years ago, then secretary of state Hillary Clinton asked Kevin Rudd, then prime minister of Australia, “How do you deal toughly with your banker?” She was referring, of course, to China’s significant holdings of U.S. treasury bonds, and the persistent worry that China could “weaponize” its debt holdings with a large-scale dump into the open markets. This worry is probably unfounded because China isn’t exactly like a banker for the U.S. — it buys American debt partially as a way to build up foreign reserves to manage its currency exchange rate, where it has a strong interest in maintaining stability.
But Clinton’s question turns out to be very personal for Donald Trump because, according to Politico, the Bank of China is literally his banker.
Trump himself is tens of millions of dollars in debt to China: In 2012, his real estate partner refinanced one of Trump’s most prized New York buildings for almost $1 billion. The debt includes $211 million from the state-owned Bank of China — its first loan of this kind in the U.S. — which matures in the middle of what could be Trump’s second term, financial records show.
Steps from Trump Tower in Manhattan, the 43-story 1290 Avenue of the Americas skyscraper spans an entire city block. Trump owns a 30 percent stake in the property valued at more than $1 billion, making it one of the priciest addresses in his portfolio, according to his financial disclosures.
The news of this loan will likely reverberate throughout the U.S. presidential campaign. As we noted earlier this week, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and Senator Mitt Romney are among those actively vying for the “toughest on China” title in American politics. However, their fierce words, combined with the historically unfavorable views of China across U.S. demographics, are making life tough for Asian Americans, who are fearing an increase in racial abuse.