As Trump stacks cabinet with China critics, UNITE HERE asks if the Utah Retirement Systems will sell a hotel located near a major U.S. port to China-based investors without national security review

SALT LAKE CITY--()--As President-elect Donald Trump taps cabinet nominees critical of China like Robert Lighthizer for U.S. trade representative and Peter Irvine for director of trade and industrial policy, Utah politicians could be taking a different tack. The Utah Retirement Systems (“URS”) owns a hotel located near a major port but may sell it to China-based investors absent a national security review, according to UNITE HERE.

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) wrote to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urging the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) to review the potential sale of URS’s Westin Long Beach hotel to companies tied to China or other foreign states, according to UNITE HERE. URS Executive Director Daniel Andersen refused to allow public comment on the matter at its December 15 public meeting, says UNITE HERE.

The sale of the Westin Long Beach raises potential national security questions because the hotel is next door to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection – Los Angeles/Long Beach Sea Port office, which handles sensitive information related to interstate commerce, and because the hotel’s clients have included the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to UNITE HERE.

But in an email to UNITE HERE on December 8, Andersen wrote that “…national security issues are not an appropriate discussion item for the Board and they will not take public comment on this area.”

CFIUS review is particularly appropriate, says UNITE HERE, given the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s November 2016 recommendation that U.S. lawmakers take action to ban China’s state-owned firms from acquiring U.S. companies entirely. In October 2016, the sale of the Hotel del Coronado near San Diego to Chinese insurance giant Anbang Insurance Group was called off following concerns raised by CFIUS, according to press accounts.

All seven members of the URS board are appointed by Utah governor Gary Herbert, who dropped his support for Trump following his comments about women in a 2005 video. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and other Utah politicians stuck with Trump.


Jordan Fein
Senior Research Analyst

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Release Summary

As Trump stacks his cabinet with China critics, UNITE HERE asks if the Utah Retirement Systems will sell to China-based investors a hotel near a major U.S. port without national security review.