The Americans Lobbying on Behalf of China



A few years ago, Foreign Policy published a damning report highlighting the many ways in which powerful Chinese tech companies were working hand in hand with China's Ministry of State Security (MSS) to obtain and process stolen data. Not surprisingly, considering China has already stolen the personal information of 80 percent of US citizens, much of this data was made in America (at least something still is, right?) Worryingly, a number of these unscrupulous companies have no shortage of supporters in the US. 


In an interview with CNBC, Gabriel Wildau, senior vice president at Teneo, argued, rather persuasively, that the U.S. government “often acts as a servant to business interests, whether it’s tech or other sectors.” This also includes the business interests of China, it seems. Take Alibaba, for instance, one of the company’s listed in the Foreign Policy report. This tech colossus, China’s answer to Amazon, has been referred to as an agent of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – and for good reason. In short, Alibaba can’t be trusted. The multinational isn’t just processing stolen data for the CCP, it’s also busy lobbying in the U.S. In 2022, according to a recent report by OpenSecrets, a government transparency group based in Washington D.C, Alibaba spent millions of dollars on. lobbying efforts, with the DNC Services Corp. receiving very generous donations.

As the report clearly shows, Alibaba representatives focus most of their efforts on members of Congress with ties to trade and technology. Of the 39 issues lobbied on in 2022, 10 were trade-related, while 8 were related to trademarks, copyright issues, and patents. 

As Voice of America’s (VOA) Wenhoa Ma recently reported, Mercury, an influential lobbying firm with a number of offices in the U.S. and beyond, is one of Alibaba’s biggest fans. Lobbyists from Mercury, noted the VOA piece, sought to get Alibaba greater access to “U.S. capital markets, issues related to e-commerce, and small- and medium-sized enterprise export promotion.” Since 2014, during Barack Obama’s time as president, “Alibaba has generally skewed toward the Democratic Party,” according to VOA. It’s not surprising, then, that Mercury happens to be jam-packed with left-leaning individuals, many of whom have direct ties to the Democratic Party. Let’s start with  Ashley Bauman, Mercury’s senior vice president; she previously worked as a communications adviser for the DNC. There’s also a man by the name of Greg Drilling, another senior vice president; he was once an employee of Mr. Inappropriate, otherwise known as Andrew Cuomo. Meri Bustos, Mercury’s co-chair, previously served as the co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. She also chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign in 2020. 

During the last presidential election, as the VOA piece shows, the vast majority of recipients of Alibaba’s political donations were Democrats. This is not necessarily surprising. If there is one party that has been sounding the alarm in China for years, it’s the Republican Party. 

Sadly, Alibaba is not the only Chinese company influencing American politics. Again, thanks to another OpenSecrets report, published on February 7, we now know that  Tencent Holdings, has, in recent years, spent millions of dollars lobbying the federal government. In 2022, Tencent directed most of its spending towards agencies like the Commerce Department, the State Department, the National Security Council, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Executive Office of the President. For the uninitiated, Tencent is the owner of WeChat, a spy tool very much favored by the despots in Beijing. Today, the messaging app, somewhat shockingly, is used by 19 million Americans.  Human Rights Watch (HRW) has , on more than one occasion, warned people that the CCP uses WeChat to spy on users and spread disinformation.

ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, arguably the most dangerous app in existence, is also lobbying hard in the U.S. On a recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, Malcolm Nance, a counterintelligence specialist and war hawk of epic proportions, referred to TikTok as a dangerous "intelligence collection platform." He's right, it is.

All of the above leaves us asking a rather obvious question: Why are people employed in the U.S. allowed to lobby on behalf of dangerous Chinese companies? Would the CCP allow people employed in China to lobby on behalf of dangerous U.S. companies? No, of course not. Yes, some will say, but the U.S. is not China. In America, people are free to do as they wish. That’s true, but it doesn’t mean that it’s right. When the actions of a few jeopardize the safety of the many, then, we have every right to raise our voices. The abovementioned companies are a direct threat to U.S. national security. People lobbying on behalf of them should be scrutinized closely. Moreover, the politicians elected to serve the people of America who accept donations from these Chinese companies should also be scrutinized. If the spy balloon scenario has taught us anything, it’s this: China does not respect the U.S. It never has, and it never will. For this reason, among many others, companies with ties to the CCP should never, under any circumstance, receive preferential treatment in the United States.



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