Huawei hired a lobbyist connected to one of President Donald Trump’s campaign committees as the massive Chinese tech company pushes back against the president’s trade war with China.
The company hired Michael Esposito, according to a disclosure filed with the Senate. He is a member of Trump Victory, a fundraising committee that includes the president’s reelection campaign, according to the website of his firm, Federal Advocates. Bloomberg reported on the hire Tuesday.
Esposito, a fixture in Washington, D.C., Republican circles, is also an adviser to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, the website notes. The White House declined to comment and Federal Advocates has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Huawei has not responded to the DCNF.
Huawei is dealing with a potential existential threat as the company gets pulled into the president’s trade negotiations with Beijing. Trump placed restrictions on technologies from foreign adversaries in May, making it difficult for Huawei to gain access to applications from Google and other major American tech companies.
Trump’s ban against Huawei will cost the company $30 billion in revenue, CEO Ren Zhengfei told reporters in June. (RELATED: Huawei Has Been Helping African Countries Spy On Political Opponents: WSJ Investigation)
His comments are startling given past remarks from company executives who suggested Huawei was technologically self-sufficient and will absorb the blows. The U.S. began applying pressure on the company in January, when the Justice Department (DOJ) charged Huawei on several counts of fraud.
The 13-count indictment against Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, accused the tech giant of bank fraud, wire fraud and violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. It was also charged with conspiring to obstruct justice related to the DOJ’s investigation. U.S. lawmakers have gotten in on the fight as well.
Recent reports have also shown that Huawei helped African governments spy on political opponents. Intelligence officials in Uganda and Zambia hired technicians from the tech company to support domestic spying using the company’s technology and other companies’ products, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Huawei dominates Africa’s digital industry as the country’s most successful supplier of 4G and 5G mobile networks and government surveillance systems. The report breathes life into claims that Huawei is an arm of the Chinese government.
The Chinese government built and financed a $200 million complex holding the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia. The building was completed and handed over to the Ethiopian government in January 2012. Media reports have since cast a negative light on China’s intentions.
France’s Le Monde published an investigation in January 2018, for instance, showing that from 2012 to 2017 servers based inside the AU’s headquarters were transferring data every night to unknown servers in Shanghai. It was also reported at the time that microphones hidden in desks and walls were detected and removed during a sweep for bugs.
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