• U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the House Deputy Whip team at the East Room of the White House, March 7, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the House Deputy Whip team at the East Room of the White House, March 7, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo : Getty Images)

China has granted preliminary approval for 38 Trump-related trademarks, paving the way for U.S. President Donald Trump and his family to develop branded business ranging from mining and construction to hotels and resorts, official documents show.

At least nine of the applications were approved by China's Trademark Office on February 26 and 27, according to CNN citing Chinese trademark documents.

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Trump's lawyers in China applied for 39 trademarks in April last year during the presidential campaign. Four were rejected in February, although the reasons remain unclear why they were not approved.

If no one objects, all but three of the trademarks will be formally registered under Trump after 90 days. The Chinese government has already allowed for the registration of one trademark to the president, for Trump-branded construction services on February 14, the result of a decade-long legal battle that ruled in Trump's favor after he declared his candidacy.

Democratic lawmakers and ethics lawyers have questioned the timing of the approvals, saying that Trump's growing portfolio of Chinese trademarks raises serious conflict-of-interest questions.

Maryland Senator Ben Cardin told CNN on Wednesday that the trademark approvals pose a "major concern" that could violate the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits federal employees from accepting "present, emolument, office or title," from a foreign state.

The timing of the approvals is a "deliberate decision" by China, Cardin said, adding that Trump "is jeopardizing the office of the presidency" by violating the Constitution.

Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer for former U.S. President George W. Bush, said the large volume of approved trademarks raised red flags.

"A routine trademark, patent or copyright from a foreign government is likely not an unconstitutional emolument, but with so many trademarks being granted over such a short time period, the question arises as to whether there is an accommodation in at least some of them," he told The Guardian in a report published Thursday.

A spokesman for China's foreign ministry declined to comment on the trademarks granted to Trump but said that Chinese authorities "consistently and equally protect domestic and international trademark holders' legal rights."

Alan Garter, a Trump Organization lawyer, said the company has long been trying to protect Trump's intellectual property rights in China, with "core real estate" trademark have been registered in China since 2011.

"The latest registrations are a natural result of those longstanding, diligent efforts and any suggestion to the contrary demonstrates a complete disregard of the facts as well as a lack of understanding of international trademark law," Garten said.

The approved trademarks cover a range of industries including insurance, finance and real estate companies, branded spas, bars, hotels, day care centers, restaurants, and shoe repair and escort services.

Trump has previously accused China during the presidential campaign as a currency manipulator and stealing U.S. jobs. He has also pledged to refrain from making new foreign deals and place his businesses in a trust run by his adult sons.