In the past two weeks, the Chinese government has granted U.S. President Donald Trump a total of 38 valuable trademarks. They come as tensions between China and the United States have cooled somewhat, leading to suggestions that the award is a poorly concealed quid pro quo designed to reward a president with considerable personal business interests. On Tuesday, Sen. Ben Cardin went so far as to accuse China of “trying to curry favor with the president of the United States.”

That sounds plausible. But Chinese officials have other reasons for ensuring that Trump’s trademarks are protected. And currying favor probably isn’t atop the list.

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