Tencent, the Chinese tech company that owns the “WeChat” chat app, has tapped into the U.S. Congress’ revolving door and hired several lobbyists to defend it amid the threat of a ban by President Trump.
The new hires include former U.S. Representative Ed Royce, 68, a Republican from California who was chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and author of numerous bills targeting China during his 16 years in office.
Ed Royce introduced a powerful sanctions bill in 2017, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that has been used to punish members of the Chinese military, among others. He also introduced legislation to bolster Taiwan’s defences and international stature.
He served in Congress from 1993 until 2019, after deciding not to run for re-election the previous year.
According to congressional lobbying disclosure forms, Tencent hired Royce and 5 other former congressional aides this year to represent its interests on Capitol Hill. It also hired the law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison to lobby.
“The disclosures were first reported by Politico”.
Ed Royce and his fellow lobbyists are part of the firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, which has dozens of other companies as clients. When your business, reputation or industry is on the line, the firm says on its website.
The Chinese tech company’s hiring spree comes as its premier product, the chat app WeChat, faces a potential ban in the U.S.
On August 6, President Trump issued executive orders declaring that his administration was moving to effectively block WeChat and TikTok, another Chinese-owned social media app from the U.S.
President Trump has cited national security concerns, including the Chinese government’s unfettered access to American users’ personal data, as a primary reason for the potential ban.