NEW YORK—It has long been tradition for the President of the United States to take up accommodations in the Waldorf-Astoria when in New York. However, President Barack Obama won’t be staying in the presidential suite of the 47-story, historic hotel in Manhattan this fall when he comes to town for the annual United Nations General Assembly.
U.S. officials strongly hinted that the $1.95 billion sale of the Waldorf to China’s Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group earlier this year was the main reason behind the president’s decision to find another place. One U.S. official involved in the decision told Yahoo News that there were worries that surveillance equipment could be installed in a forthcoming “major renovation” of the Waldorf.
Epoch Times highlighted potential security issues immediately following Hilton Worldwide’s sale of the Waldorf to Anbang in October last year. The U.S. State Department has for years included in its travel advice to China: “All hotel rooms and offices are considered to be subject to onsite or remote technical monitoring at all times.”
Anbang’s management has a red lineage—chairman Wu Xiaohui is the grandson-in-law of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, while consultant Chen Xiaolu founded the Red Guard Police Corps during the Cultural Revolution, a tumultuous period of modern Chinese history.
Publicly, there is no final decision on whether Obama is staying at the Waldorf, but “it’s a done deal” that the president will avoid the hotel, an official told Yahoo News. Also, no official U.S. meetings of any kind will be held in the Waldorf.
According to the Associated Press, the State Department will operate from the New York Palace Hotel, a 55-story luxury hotel on Madison Avenue.