Barack Obama’s half-brother has quietly been promoting cheap Chinese exports as the Democratic senator raises his domestic and international profile in the race for the White House, according to the Sunday Times of London.

Mark Ndesandjo — the son of Barack Obama’s late father and his third wife, American Ruth Nidesand who runs an upscale kindergarten in Nairobi – has taken significant steps to avoid public scrutiny, the paper reported. Ndesandjo's relationship to the Democratic hopeful remains unknown to most of his acquaintances in Shenzhen, a border boomtown in southern China where he has lived since 2002.

While Obama refers to Ndesandjo simply as “my brother,” the two men have held divergent viewpoints on their American heritage and the how to live in the glare of publicity, according to the Times of London.

“He is big, strong and full of energy, speaks good Chinese and is a really easy-going guy,” a Chinese friend of Ndesandjo’s told the Times of London. “He always wears a hat over his shaven head. I believe he has several consultancy jobs.”

According to the Times of London, Chinese officials have unanswered questions about Ndesandjo’s Internet company, Worldnexus Ltd., which has provided corporate communications and Web site design to Chinese firms seeking customers in English-speaking markets. Worldnexus is not registered to conduct business in Shenzhen and officials at the city’s commercial administration bureau said this raised potential issues of taxation and compliance with the law by its customers.

Contacted by The Sunday Times last week, Ndesandjo said: “Thanks for your interest. However I am not giving interviews at this time.”

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