President Donald Trump's daughter and senior advisor, Ivanka Trump, last month won initial approval from the Chinese government for 16 new trademarks, covering a wide range of products that include "voting machines."
The approval for Ivanka Trump's trademarks — which comes three months after she said her personal clothing brand was shutting down — occurred "while her father continues to wage a trade war with China," noted the public interest group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which first reported the approval.
CREW said the approvals, which are only the latest in a series of approvals of trademarks by the Chinese, raises "ethics questions."
"Since she has retained her foreign trademarks, the public will continue to have to ask whether President Trump has made foreign policy decisions in the interest of his and his family's businesses," CREW said in a post. "Her trademarks remain a potential conflict of interest as she continues to work on policy in the White House and meet with foreign leaders."
The trademarks approved for Ivanka Trump-branded products — which also include nursing homes, sausage casing, handbags, shoes, wedding dresses and jewelry — were first applied for in 2016.
At the time that she shuttered her brand this year in the face of boycotts and retailers declining to carry her products, The Washington Post reported that Ivanka Trump would retain the copyrights and intellectual propery associated with that brand, and that she would continue to seek trademarks. The Post cited a person familiar with the situation.
However, Ivanka Trump also said at the time that she did not "know when or if I will ever return to the business," according to the Post.
CREW, in its report, pointed out two coincidences when China approved past Ivanka Trump trademarks.
"In May 2018, Ivanka Trump's business received approval for several new Chinese trademarks a week before President Trump announced that he wanted to lift the ban on the Chinese company ZTE, for violating US sanctions," CREW said.
"In 2017, the business received three new Chinese trademarks on the same day she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping," CREW said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.