The goal of Vice President Biden’s diplomatic visit was to dampen rising tensions in the region. The goal of Hunter Biden’s visit remains unclear.
Ethics experts say his ongoing business ties could present the appearance of a conflict of interest if his father is elected president.
“If Hunter Biden is still connected with [the Chinese investment firm], he needs to get out of that relationship,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a non-profit and non-partisan advocacy group, told ABC News. “And there should be as much clarity as possible about what actually is going on there as well.”
As for the 2013 visit, an attorney for Hunter Biden told ABC News the vice president’s son accompanied his daughter Finnegan Biden on the Air Force Two trip to Beijing and conducted no business during the visit.
But in an interview with The New Yorker published in July, Hunter Biden said he did meet with business partners at Bohai Harvest RST during his time in China. In fact, he said he even organized for one of his associates to shake hands with his father. Afterward, according to the magazine, Hunter Biden and the business associate “had what both parties described as a social meeting.”
Hunter Biden continues to play an active role in the investment fund, according to his lawyer, but the genesis of his relationship with the Chinese remains unclear. The South China Morning Post reported that Bohai Harvest RST’s chief executive said he “was working to produce an explanation about Hunter’s role.”
Despite Hunter Biden’s dismissal of the matter, the interaction between Joe Biden and Hunter Biden’s Chinese business associate crossed a line, according to an ethics expert, assuming the vice president knew to whom he was being introduced.
“If [Vice President Biden] did know, it would have been a mistake – an error of judgment,” Weissman told ABC News.
“That said, this is orders of magnitude less consequential than the best ethical lapse of the Trump administration,” Weissman added, particularly with regard to the president’s ongoing financial interest in the Trump Organization, which is now led by his two adult sons.