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Chinese smartphone giant lobbies against US blacklisting over alleged military ties; Uyghurs sign first lobbying contract; Saudi Arabia looks West after Midwest lobby push: Tuesday’s Daily Digest

Chinese smartphone giant lobbies against US blacklisting over alleged military ties

Jan. 28, 2017: Xiaomi sign outside the company’s headquarters in Beijing / Shutterstock

China’s leading smartphone maker has hired one of Washington’s biggest lobbying firms as it fights back on multiple fronts against its blacklisting over alleged military ties.

The Beijing Xiaomi Mobile Software Company has hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to lobby on “issues regarding application of Executive Order 13959 to Xiaomi,” according to a newly disclosed lobbying filing. The registration was effective March 1.

Xiaomi is the first Chinese company to hire a lobbying firm explicitly for the purposes of challenging EO 13959, which President Donald Trump signed on Nov. 12, 2020. The order restricts US investments in what the US government deems to be a Communist Chinese military company (CCMC), based on criteria from the Department of Defense and the Department of Treasury.

At least four other technology companies that have been designated as Communist Chinese military companies also hired lobbying help prior to Trump’s executive order.

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings


Honduras: Gus West Government Affairs continues to represent the government of Honduras as it negotiates a new contract following the previous one’s expiration at the end of March. Honduras previously extended its contract with the firm through March for $59,000 per month, the same rate as a previous month-long extension in February. The firm has provided public relations consulting for Honduras since 2016. Registered on the account are firm founder Gus West, president of the nonprofit Hispanic Institute in Washington; consultant Leonel Teller Sanchez, a former member of parliament and envoy to the European Union from Nicaragua; and consultant Richard Hernandez.

Honduras has also hired BGR Government Affairs on a $60,000-per-month contract in January 2020. The lobbying push comes as US authorities arrested President Juan Orlando‘s brother, former Honduran lawmaker Juan Alvarado, on drug trafficking charges in Miami in 2018. A US court sentenced Alvarado to life in prison last month.

Honduras lobbyists defend COVID-19 response amid corruption allegations


Uyghurs: The Washington-based Uyghur National Movement has hired Lobbyit to advocate on “human rights abuses” in western China’s Xinjiang region. This is the first time the Uyghurs hire a lobbying firm, even as several advocacy groups in the Washington area, including the Campaign for Uyghurs and the East Turkestan government in exile, have long advocated for sanctions on China and other measures. News of the registration, which was effective April 7, comes as Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) today introduced a Senate companion to a House bill that would grant priority refugee status to Uyghurs and other groups facing repression in Xinjiang.

Rebiya Kadeer (2).jpg
Rebiya Kadeer

The recently launched movement is led by Rebiya Kadeer, an ethnic Uyghur and businesswoman who once served in China’s parliament. Kadeer was arrested in 1999 for allegedly sending classified information to her husband, an advocate for Xinjiang’s independence. She fled to the United States in 2005 and has since led the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur American Association.

Uyghur advocates press for more after latest China sanctions
Turkish opposition emerges as key ally of Uyghur activists on US China policy

Founded in 2009 by Paul Kanitra, Lobbyit offers unique, tiered prices that are much lower than many other lobbying practices. The firm has registered Justin Perkins, a former staff assistant on the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, and Justin Lewis to lobby for the Uyghurs. Kadeer and Lobbyit did not respond to requests for comment.

Japan: The Embassy of Japan in Washington has renewed its contract with Peck Madigan Jones for 12 months starting April 1. The contract with the firm, which rebranded itself today as the Tiber Creek Group according to Politico, is for $15,000 per month ($180,000 total), the same amount as the initial contract signed last April. Peck Madigan Jones is contracted to consult on policy research and advise the embassy on its relationship with Congress and the Joe Biden administration. Registered on the account are Joseph Jonathon Jones, a former chief of staff to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.); Jay Heimbach, a former chief of staff to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and special adviser to President Barack Obama; and Jen Olson, a former policy adviser to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Separately, the firm has terminated its subcontracting agreement with Patrick Griffin on March 31. A former White House congressional liaison under President Bill Clinton, Griffin was hired by Peck Madigan Jones for $2,500 per month for one year on April 1, 2020, to advise on legislation in US Congress and actions and policies in the executive branch.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia is looking West for the next phase of its outreach campaign to the US heartland. After focusing on business leaders, local media and state and local officials in the Midwest over the past couple of years, the Saudi embassy’s Iowa-based public relations firm Larson Shannahan Slifka Group (LS2 Group) has hired the Kyle Moyer & Company of Scottsdale, Arizona for $7,500 per month starting April 1 to “promote good relations between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by disseminating information to the public, government officials and the media.” The embassy hired the LS2 Group in November 2019 for $126,500 per month to reach out directly to the US heartland in a bid to deepen political and economic ties across the country amid lingering bipartisan criticism in Washington.

Kyle Moyer & Company has registered four employees as foreign agents on the contract, including its founder, public affairs consultant Kyle Moyer, a veteran of political campaigns in Arizona. Also registered is senior associate Derrik Rochwalik, a former political director of the Arizona Republican Party and campaign manager for Arizona’s then-House Speaker (now state senator) David Gowan‘s failed 2016 congressional bid. They are joined by associates Elizabeth Pomeroy and Christopher Shipley.

Saudis reach out directly to US states amid bipartisan blowback in Washington

LS2 Group has also had a subcontracting agreement with Summit Information Services in next-door Colorado since December 2019. Firm President David Cunningham and senior account executive Karen Mason are registered on that account. LS2’s contract with Summit is currently worth $7,500 a month.