President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugural committee will refund a donation from former California Sen. Barbara Boxer after she registered as a foreign agent for a Chinese surveillance firm.
The Biden team’s decision to return Boxer’s $500 donation shows its effort to balance between its pledge to hold China accountable and the notable Democrats that lobbyists have enlisted to lobby Biden’s incoming administration, Axios reported. Boxer registered as an agent for Hikvision USA, an American subsidiary of a Chinese surveillance firm that has been blacklisted by the U.S. government and has played a central role in China’s mass detention of Uighur Muslims, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
The Commerce Department in President Donald Trump’s administration barred Hikvision from doing business with American firms in 2019 after accusing the firm’s Chinese parent company of helping repress China’s Uighur population. The Trump administration also accused Hikvision of having ties to the Chinese military, Reuters reported. (RELATED: China Sanctions US Lawmakers Who Called Out Its Human Rights Abuses)
Boxer, a Democrat who served in the Senate from 1993-2017, registered her work through Mercury Public Affairs. She filed her registration form with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and will be “providing strategic counsel” to Hikvision, the form says.
Biden described China’s internment of its Uighur population in November 2019 as “one of the worst abuses of human rights in the world,” adding that “the U.S. must speak out against this oppression.”
Hikvision cameras monitor many of the concentration camps throughout China’s Xinjiang region, where over one million Uighurs have been forced into labor, imprisonment or sterilization, according to the New York Times. Its cameras are also reportedly used in U.S. military bases, homes and streets. (RELATED: China Is Participating In Ethnic Cleansing)
Boxer said in a statement to Axios that “When I am asked to provide strategic advice to help a company operate in a more responsible and humane manner consistent with U.S. law in spirit and letter, it is an opportunity to make things better while helping protect and create American jobs.”
Hikvision did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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