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Anbang Insurance is a shadowy Chinese financial behemoth that has been buying up assets in the US at breathtaking speed.
In 2014, for example, it acquired the Waldorf Astoria, and last year it attempted to buy Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.
The chairman of the company, Wu Xiaohui, is married to former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s granddaughter.
Jared Kushner is President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a real-estate investor in his own right as chief executive of his multibillion-dollar family firm, Kushner Companies.
According to The New York Times, Kushner and Xiaohui met on November 16, just after Trump clinched the presidency, to toast what that would mean for global business – an interesting toast given Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric against China.
“Mr. Wu and Mr. Kushner – who is married to Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and is one of his closest advisers – were nearing agreement on a joint venture in Manhattan: the redevelopment of 666 Fifth Avenue, the fading crown jewel of the Kushner family real-estate empire. Anbang, which has close ties to the Chinese state, has seen its aggressive efforts to buy up hotels in the United States slowed amid concerns raised by Obama administration officials who review foreign investments for national security risk.”
In China, the separation between business and politics is almost nonexistent. To be a billionaire executive is to also be part of the party cadre and to have the blessing of those in power.
This report is a bit of a longer read, but it’s an important one. It highlights a couple of things we know – that Kushner is trying to find a creative way to adhere to ethics rules to serve in his father-in-law’s administration, and that he has business relationships with those connected to the highest levels of the Chinese government.
And it highlights what we don’t know, which is how extensive those relationships are.
One Kushner project, a Trump building that opened in New Jersey in November, got as much as $50 million in financing from Chinese investors. The investors were part of a federal program that has come under scrutiny from Congress recently. It grants two-year visas and a path to permanent residency for those who invest $500,000. It’s called EB-5.