Steve Daines Bought and Sold Mutual Funds Investing in China During US-China Trade Negotiations

Photo from Senator Daines Official Senate Web Site

In recent days, Senator Steve Daines has advertised heavily to convince the people of Montana that he will be tough on China. That’s a hard sell for Daines under the best of circumstances, given that he chose to work in China for Procter and Gamble immediately after the Tiananmen Square massacre and has been so friendly to the Chinese government that the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. once called him China’s ambassador in Congress. He even undermined efforts to help the oppressed people of Tibet so badly that a former U.S. Ambassador argued Daines undermined human rights and strengthened the perception that Americans can be bought:

“It confirms everything the Chinese believe about us and folks around the world, that anyone can be bought,” he said. “We’re only as strong as our weakest link, and that Daines would do this only encourages them to continue.”

It turns out that the ambassador was right, and that Senator Daines, who as recently as two years ago was calling for a “strategic alliance” with China, was doing some buying of his own.

Research shows that Daines was making large investment transactions in China-linked mutual funds just as the U.S. and China were engaged in trade talks.

In fact, on August 21, 2018, Daines purchased funds tied to Chinese corporations the day before new formal trade talks between the U.S. and China.

On August 21, Daines purchased as much as $150,000 in mutual funds with large investments in China.

All three of the funds are heavily invested in major players in China, including Alibaba, JD.Com, Geely Automobile, and China Construction Bank.

The timing of the purchase is certainly suspect, as China and the U.S. held talks on August 22 and August 23:

A Chinese delegation led by Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen will meet U.S. representatives led by Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass, China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website. The Wall Street Journal reported that the talks in Washington would take place on Aug. 22 and 23, just as new U.S. tariffs on $16 billion of Chinese goods take effect, along with retaliatory tariffs from Beijing on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

And following a second wave of talks, Daines started selling.

On December 24, Daines sold as much as $150,000 from the funds:

On December 23 and 24 of that month, China and the U.S. began to reach a thaw in their trade dispute:

China and the United States held a vice ministerial-level call on Friday, the second such contact in a week, achieving a ‘deep exchange of views’ on trade imbalances and the protection of intellectual property, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said. A statement posted on the ministry’s website on Sunday said the two countries ‘made new progress’ on those issues, without specifying further. It also said China and the United States discussed arrangements for the next call and mutual visits. On Wednesday, the ministry said Beijing and Washington had held a vice ministerial-level telephone call about trade and economic issues, without providing other details. The calls took place amid signs of a thaw in a trade dispute between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies.

Just as with the healthcare investments we discussed yesterday, Daines wasn’t breaking any laws here, but it demonstrates the profile of a Senator who, while presenting himself as a leading figure in US-Sino trade relations, was busy making large investments in Chinese state-owned firms. It also demonstrates the danger of a U.S. Senator who seems to be making his personal finances a priority while he should focus on serving the needs of Montanans.

And independent of those concerns, it’s hardly in keeping with his new “tough on China” stance for Daines to be investing in the very state-owned companies that make it so difficult for American companies to compete with China.

We could believe Senator Daines now when he suggests that he’s going to be tough on China just in time for an election.

Or we could believe the former middle manager at Procter and Gamble who went to work in China after they brutally killed their own people, the former President of the Asia-Pacific region for RightNow Technologies, the Senator who helped the Chinese government cover its abuses in Tibet, and the investor who poured a fortune into Chinese state-owned businesses while the U.S. was in a trade war with the country.

Either way, we’d be fools to believe anything Steve Daines says now.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

Subscribe to our posts

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


Click here to post a comment

Please enter an e-mail address

  • Daines has no principles or integrity and I wonder how Montanans
    could or would even consider this low life,

  • You know what is funny, years ago many Chinese Companies received waivers for reporting on the New York Stock Exchange which is where many Asian global type mutual funds invest. More than 150 Chinese firms are listed on the Nasdaq, and the New York Stock Exchange. Many are owned and weaponized by the communist party. They also are mandated to share any and all information, including trade secrets, that they received with the state including their military. This includes, companies dredging to expand islands in the South China Seas, video monitoring of in-country muslim population, Huawei(5G), and companies building Military equipment. CalPERS has massive investments in these type of companies and funds and I bet the Montana Teachers’ Retirement System is also heavily invested. Do you know where Hunter Biden is or where you money is being invested. Most do not.

    • It’s certainly possible that the Montana TRS is invested in these funds, but there is a key difference. I don’t have any control over that. Steve Daines chose, in the middle of a trade war with China, to invest in funds that are heavily invested in Chinese industry. He chose to invest in Chinese corporations that are exploiting Chinese state capitalism to unfairly compete with the U.S.

      And now he wants us to believe that he is tough on China.

Latest PostCast

Support Our Work!

Subscribe Via E-mail


Which Democratic Candidate for Governor Do You Support Today?

Send this to a friend