BEIJING (NYTIMES) - China this month (May) awarded Ivanka Trump seven new trademarks across a broad collection of businesses, including books, housewares and cushions.
At around the same time, President Donald Trump vowed to find a way to prevent a major Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE, from going bust, even though the company has a history of violating US limits on doing business with countries like Iran and North Korea.
Coincidence? Well, probably.
Still, the timing is raising questions about the Trump family's businesses and its patriarch's status as commander in chief. Even as Trump contends with Beijing on issues like security and trade, his family and the company that bears his name are trying to make money off their brand in China's potentially promising market.
The most recent slew of trademarks appear to have been granted along the same timeline as Ivanka Trump's previous requests, experts said. But more broadly, they said, Ivanka Trump's growing portfolio of trademarks in China and the family's business interests there raises questions about whether Chinese officials are giving the Trump family extra consideration that they otherwise might not get.
These critics say the foreign governments that do business with Ivanka Trump know they are dealing with the president's daughter - a person who also works in the White House.
"Some countries will no doubt see this as a way to curry favor with President Trump," wrote Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, and Norman Eisen, chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, two non-profit watchdog groups.
Eisen's group reported on the trademarks on Saturday.
"Other countries may see the business requests made by his daughter's company as requests they cannot refuse," they said.
Ivanka Trump's representatives have said that there is nothing improper about Trump's trademarks and that they prevent individuals from profiting off her name.
Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand, said in a statement on Monday that the brand's protection of trademarks was "in the normal course of business," especially in countries where trademark infringement was rampant.
"We have recently seen a surge in trademark filings by unrelated third parties trying to capitalise on the name," Klem said, "and it is our responsibility to diligently protect our trademark." Chinese trademark officials didn't respond to a request for comment on Monday.
In total, Ivanka Trump has 34 trademarks in China.