Kushner family brings investment-for-visa opportunity to China

Updated 2017-05-09 09:31:28 Global Times

During one session held in a Ritz-Carlton hotel in Beijing Saturday, wealthy Chinese investors were urged to consider putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into a real estate project called Kushner 1, or One Journal Square, in the U.S. state of New Jersey, according to a presentation on the website of Qiaowai, an organization based in Beijing that helps Chinese migrate. The project, with total investment of 6 million, will create 6,616 jobs, according to the presentation.

The pitch asks attendees to invest 0,000 in a Kushner Companies real estate project through an immigrant investor program, according to the website of Qiaowai, the event's organizer.

Some foreign journalists showed up at the event in Beijing, but they were barred from entry, according to Reuters. At a similar pitch in Shanghai on Sunday, some journalists were stopped by a man from entering the room where the event was held.

There has been little coverage of these events in the Chinese media. Some domestic news sites in China translated related stories published in foreign media like the Financial Times.

Some Chinese Netizens raised questions about whether this project will really help them emigrate to the U.S. "0,000 can buy an apartment in a nice area in Beijing, then will it get us a U.S. green card?" a Netizen posted on China's Twitter-like Weibo service on Saturday.

For years, many Chinese investors came to the U.S. through the EB-5 visa program, a New York-based worker who is familiar with this program, told the Global Times on Monday, speaking anonymously. "It's not new thing for them," she said.

The project consists of a 48-story residential tower on top of a nine-story base containing a mix of retail, office and parking space, according to a New Jersey-based real estate organization jerseydigs.com.

One Journal Square will have 121,640 square feet of retail space, 117,840 square feet of office space and 388 parking spaces. Kushner Companies and KABR GROUP are jointly developing the project.

Kushner's sister Nicole Meyer presented the pitch at Saturday's event as part of the "promotional materials," according to the Washington Post. Some pictures captured at the event that were posted on Twitter showed that U.S. President Trump's photo had been included in the PowerPoint presentation for the project.

More sessions are expected to take place this weekend in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, according to Qiaowai.

Kushner Companies did not reply to the inquiry sent by the Global Times as of press time on Monday.

Kushner paid million for the property in 2015, New York-based real estate news site the realdeal.com reported in January 2015.

Kushner Companies' pitch to Chinese investors is once again taking advantage of "the political image" of Trump, Hao Junbo, a lawyer at Beijing-based Hao Law Firm, told the Global Times on Monday. "Look at the former U.S. president (George) Bush, who also had close ties to business before he became president, but the Trump family has done too much, from his daughter's shoe business to this real estate pitch," he said, noting that Chinese investors are likely to be more optimistic about the profitability of a project proposed by a president's family.

Besides Meyer's presence, immigration lawyers such as Nneka Ukpai and John Linn, regional vice president of U.S. Immigration Fund, will also appear at the upcoming events, according to Qiaowai's website.

The EB-5 immigrant investor program was established in 1992 for foreign entrepreneurs eligible to apply for a green card in the U.S. There are two requirements: to make the required investment in a commercial enterprise in the U.S. and to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified workers, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"Of course, every investment has potential risks," said the worker based in New York.

"To see how the project will make profits and how many jobs it will create are key factors for foreign investors to get visas," she said.

Because the Trump family has business in the U.S. and overseas, the likelihood for Chinese investors to get visas through this project should be high, noted the Chinese lawyer.

"But the way they are promoting the business raises concerns about unfair competition," Hao said.

Ivanka Trump, the U.S. president's daughter, has been considering expanding her business in China, according to media reports. One contractor for her shoe brand Ivanka told the Global Times in an earlier interview that it had received thousands of orders for Ivanka shoes, which are expected to be sold in China in September.

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