Trump Organization Denies Reports of Planned Expansion In Taiwan

The Trump Organization denies it is planning any expansion into Taiwan.

December 3, 2016, 4:38 PM

— -- The Trump Organization said Saturday that the company has no plans to expand in Taiwan and that “rumors” to the contrary are false.

After President-elect Trump spoke Friday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen -- breaking nearly four decades of sensitive U.S. policy toward China -- media reports surfaced saying that the Trump Organization is considering investing in Taiwan.

The Taiwanese and Chinese media reports said that a representative of the Trump Organization visited a city in Taiwan in September and expressed interest in the company's investing in a large-scale urban development project there.

The mayor of the city of Taoyuan reportedly said that the Trump Organization is considering building hotels and resorts in the city but that, as the large development project there is under review, the interest expressed by the Trump Organization representative during the visit was merely speculative.

But the Trump Organization's vice president of marketing, Amanda Miller, told ABC News in a statement, "There are no plans for expansion into Taiwan, nor are any of our executives planning a visit. The rumors of a planned development there are simply false."

Miller also responded to a recently surfaced Facebook post by Anne-Marie Donoghue, who is global director of transient sales and Asia at Trump Hotels. She posted a picture on her Facebook on Oct. 15 from Taipei and in the comments described her visit there as a "work trip."

Miller said Donoghue's visit had nothing to do with any planned development by Trump Organization in Taiwan.

"In terms of Anne Marie, she is not part of our development team which is overseen by our hotel company CEO," Miller said. "There have been no authorized visits to Taiwan on behalf of our brand for the purposes of development nor are there any active conversations."

The Trump transition team has not yet responded to requests by ABC News for comment on this issue.

The issue presents another thread in a story that has gained momentum as Trump assembles his administration, whether the interests of his global business could intertwine or affect his actions as president.

Trump said earlier this week he will be holding a major news conference with his children on Dec. 15 to lay out how he plans a "total" separation from his business while he is president.

In a Nov. 22 interview with The New York Times, Trump noted that the president is exempt from a conflict-of-interest statute that applies to other government officials. However, he also tweeted that it would be "visually" important to show the American people he can govern without any conflicts.

Trump's call with on Friday sent shock waves through at least part of the U.S. diplomatic establishment and led China to lodge a formal diplomatic protest with the U.S.

Taiwan has held that it is an independent nation since it split from the Chinese mainland in a 1949 civil war. But the U.S. has maintained a "one China" policy since establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979, meaning that it has not recognized Taiwan as its own country and rather as a part of China.

Since then, no phone calls between a U.S. president-elect and a Taiwanese leader have been publicly reported, according to Center for Strategic and International Studies China expert Bonnie Glaser.

The U.S. does have a "robust unofficial relationship" with Taiwan and commits to defending it in the event of a Chinese attack, according to the U.S. Department of State's website.

According to a press release from the Trump transition team about the phone call, Taiwan's president offered her congratulations to the president-elect, and he offered the same to her for her election victory this year. They discussed the "close economic, political, and security ties between Taiwan and the United States," the Trump transition team said.

The Taiwanese president's office said in a statement that the telephone call lasted 10 minutes and that Tsai and Trump were joined by Taiwan's National Security Council secretary general Joseph Wu Chao-hsieh, foreign minister David Li Ta-wei, acting secretary general Liu Jianxi and spokesman Huang Yan.

"During the conversation, President Tsai and President Trump also exchanged views and ideas on the future governance, especially the promotion of domestic economic development and the long-term strengthening of national defense, so as to enable the people to enjoy a secure and better life," the statement from Tsai's office read.

Meanwhile, Trump appeared to seek to dismiss concerns about the call in a series of tweets on Friday night, saying that he was on the receiving end of the call and noted that the U.S. has recently approved major arms sales to Taiwan.

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