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Uyghur advocates press for more after latest China sanctions; Turkey picks up former Lockheed Martin executive in F-35 push; BGR extends $360,000 Hong Kong contract for another year: Tuesday’s Daily Digest

Uyghur advocates press for more after latest China sanctions

A group of protestors wear masks symbolizing the Communist Party of China’s silencing of Uyghur Muslims and the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement at a rally in Hong Kong on Dec. 22, 2019 / Sandra Sanders

Groups advocating for China’s beleaguered Uyghur Muslim minority are using Monday’s announcement of US and international sanctions against Chinese officials to build momentum for further action against the Chinese government and those they see as complicit in its human rights abuses.

Two Washington-based organizations, Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) and the self-proclaimed East Turkistan Government in Exile, welcomed the sanctions against Chinese government officials for their alleged connection to serious human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of western China. The sanctions were a concerted action by the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union as the Joe Biden administration seeks to build an international coalition against Beijing.

However, activists believe there are more steps to take.

“While sanctions are important, they’re not particularly effective unless they’re widely applied and coordinated with other actions,” Julie Millsap, the director of public affairs and advocacy at the Campaign for Uyghurs, told Foreign Lobby Report. “So we need to have more legislative efforts to address US complicity in this genocide and break ties with the Communist Party of China.”

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings


Trinidad and Tobago: Lobbyists for Trinidad and Tobago are pushing for deeper security and development cooperation as the Caribbean recovers from COVID-19. A new lobbying filing from TheGROUP DC shows the firm distributed a brief on US-CARICOM Security Cooperation for 2021 as Prime Minister Keith Rowley chairs the Caribbean Community group for the first half of the year. The brief highlights two key objectives for this year: enhanced defense security and strengthened disaster resilience. It notably urges passage of last year’s H.R. 7703, which cleared the House but not the Senate. The resolution, which is sponsored by Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), would expand the current Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and allocate nearly $75 million per year through 2025 to improve security cooperation, combat drug trafficking, support justice reform and address instability caused by natural disasters in the Caribbean.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the imperative for a multidimensional approach to enabling Caribbean countries, in particular the smaller states of CARICOM, to overcome their range of vulnerabilities, by simultaneously accelerating recovery and advancing resilience, with the support of security cooperation and international development partners, like the US,” the brief notes.

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Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Trade Development Council has renewed its $360,000 contract with Washington-based BGR Government Affairs for another year, starting April 1. The firm will continue its work lobbying US Congress and the Joe Biden administration on economic and trade issues that are of interest to the semi-autonomous city, including US-China trade relations, US implementation of World Trade Organization agreements and other relevant trade legislation. Objectives include “preventing, minimizing or mitigating any negative impact that action taken by the US, including action against Hong Kong’s major trading partners, may have on the economic well-being of Hong Kong.” BGR has represented the council since April 2019. Firm principal Mark Tavlarides and director Chris Simeone are registered on the account. The renewal comes as the Biden administration last week sanctioned an additional 24 officials over Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on political freedoms in Hong Kong ahead of the new administration’s first face-to-face talks with Chinese officials in Anchorage.

Hong Kong’s US trade envoy moves to calm business jitters


Ukraine: While the list of Russia-linked entities the Joe Biden administration would need to sanction to lift Sen. Ted Cruz‘s (R-Texas) hold on deputy secretary of State nominee Wendy Sherman remains classified, lobbying disclosures offer possible clues. Cruz and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) shared a list of persons and entities believed to be participating in the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to western Europe on March 11. Last week Cruz tweeted that he would hold up Sherman and other State Department nominees until sanctions are imposed.

Just a couple of weeks before Cruz and Risch sent their list to Blinken, Yorktown Solutions, a lobbying firm for Ukraine’s gas industry that is run by a former adviser to Cruz’s 2016 presidential run, Daniel Vajdich, shared tracking information with his list of contacts that accuses eight companies of violating US sanctions:

Progressive Marine Technology LLC
Owner of Venie supply ship and Katun fire-fighting vessel
Koksokhimtrans LLC
Owner of icebreakers Yury Topchev and Vladislav Strizhov
PJSC Gazprom
Owner of offshore supply ship Ivan Sidorenko
Chevalier Floatels
Owner of offshore supply ship DP Gezina
JSC Gazprombank Leasing
Owner of offshore supply ship Finval
Federal Agency for Sea and River Transport of the Ministry of Transport
of the Russian Federation
Manager of offshore supply ships Finval and Baltiyskiy Issledovatel;
Owner of Baltiyskiy Issledovatel, Artemis Offshore, Murman, Umka
Sevnor Management LLC
Owner of Baltiskiy Issledovatel
Owner of offshore tug and supply ship ERRIE
Source: Yorktown Solutions / Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)

Middle East

Turkey: The Turkish defense industry has picked up a former Lockheed Martin executive as it ramps up its campaign to rejoin the F-35 fighter jet program. Stephen Williams, the stealth jet manufacturer’s former regional president for continental Europe, has registered his Alexandria-based firm Pentagon Strategies under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). He told the Department of Justice that the firm is working for Ankara-based SSTEK Savunma Sanayi Teknolojiler (Defense Industry Technologies) and the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), the government office that manages Turkey’s defense industry. A contract spelling out the terms of Williams’ engagement should be uploaded to the FARA web site shortly.

Williams is well-known within the F-35 community, having left Lockheed Martin in the summer of 2016 to become CEO of the North American subsidiary of Danish defense and aerospace company Terma, which says it makes “more than 70 mission-critical parts for the F-35” including advanced lightweight composite components and radar electronics. Williams founded Pentagon Strategies in Virginia in March 2020. He did not respond to a request for comment about the focus of his engagement. But his registration comes just a little over a month after SSTEK hired Washington law firm Arnold & Porter to “advise on a strategy for the SSB and Turkish contractors to remain within the Joint Strike Fighter Program,” as we first reported Feb. 18. Arnold & Porter is to be paid $750,000 for six months to provide “strategic advice and outreach to US commercial partners and stakeholders in the program.”

The Donald Trump administration announced in July 2019 that it had removed Turkey from the multi-nation F-35 program over the country’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems. The Pentagon has since clarified that it will continue to depend on Turkish defense contractors for key components through next year. Turkish defense officials told the Turkish military news site that the purpose of Arnold & Porter’s engagement was to ensure that Turkey’s rights are protected after it paid for delivery of four F-35 aircraft that remain in the US.

Turkey lobbies to get back in F-35 program

Caught our eye

DR Congo / Great Lakes: Fourteen individuals and advocacy organizations wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken today to urge him to name a “high-level and well-resourced” special envoy for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the broader Great Lakes region. The letter spearheaded by Human Rights Watch raises concerns with lingering armed conflict in the eastern DRC, “serious flaws” in the electoral process that brought President Felix Tshisekedi to power last year and the risks in neighboring Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda “as ruling parties strengthen their grip on power, with space for dissent highly restricted and deepening repression.” The letter goes on to recommend the use of “network sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, and coordination with the private sector” to add financial leverage to “traditional diplomatic tools.”

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Yemen: The US office of Yemen’s separatist Southern Transition Council shared the following statement in response to Saudi Arabia’s cease-fire proposal in its campaign against the Iran-backed Houthis:

“The Southern Transitional Council welcomes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s initiative to end the Yemeni crisis and reach a comprehensive political solution, and appreciates the keenness and efforts of the Arab coalition countries, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, towards achieving lasting peace and stabilizing the south and Yemen.

The Southern Transitional Council stresses the importance of the initiative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in terms of its inclusiveness of all parties as a real guarantee of progress towards a permanent solution, in a way that guarantees the representation of all parties, and in the priority of that the legitimate national aspirations of the people of the South, and their right to restore and build their state, identity and sovereignty.

The Council also stresses the urgent necessity to find urgent solutions to the escalating humanitarian crisis and the comprehensive economic collapse, expressing its deep regret at the difficult living conditions that people face, and affirming that it will do everything in its power to ensure the minimum basic needs of the people in the south.”

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