Huawei Shuts Down US Lobbying Efforts After Years of Failed Market Access

Chinese tech giant Huawei has shut down its Washington lobbying operations, marking the end of a costly effort to maintain a North American market presence amid US-China tensions. The company, blacklisted in the US, faced accusations of spying for Chinese government, leading to a ban on selling products in the US.

Huawei Shuts Down US Lobbying Efforts After Years of Failed Market Access
Image: USA Today

Huawei Retreats: Shuttering Lobbying Operations in Washington After US Ban

Schenzen, China (11 January 2023) – Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant that once waged a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in Washington, has quietly closed its in-house lobbying operations in the US capital. This marks a significant shift for the company, which spent years attempting to cultivate political influence in the face of rising tensions with the US government.

The departures of Huawei’s last two registered lobbyists, Jeff Hogg and Donald Morrissey, in recent months signal the end of a costly and ultimately unsuccessful effort to gain traction in the North American market. While Huawei once supplied equipment to smaller mobile firms across the US, it faced increasing scrutiny and ultimately a ban on selling products and accessing cutting-edge technology due to security concerns.

Years of Lobbying Efforts Yield Little Fruit

For over a decade, Huawei actively engaged in lobbying efforts, employing nine lobbying firms and a team of public relations representatives. Executives held frequent briefings with congressional offices and major news outlets, and the company invested heavily in influencing public perception. Federal filings reveal that Huawei spent over $13 million on lobbying in the past ten years, reaching a peak of $1.8 million in a single quarter of 2019. Some of these funds even went towards high-profile events and influential lobbyists, including veteran Democrat Tony Podesta, who earned $1 million from Huawei in 2021.

However, with the US ban firmly in place and its American business dwindling, Huawei saw little reason to continue its lobbying efforts. As Chris Pereira, a former Huawei public relations executive, puts it, “The US market isn’t a likely place for a breakthrough for Huawei in the near future.”

A Quiet Exit from Washington’s Halls of Power

Morrissey, who lobbied for both Huawei and its US research arm Futurewei, confirmed his departure from the company on LinkedIn in December. He has since moved on to a government affairs role at Gotion, a battery technology company. Hogg, who served as Huawei’s head of government relations since 2020, also left the company in November.

Huawei has also seen several outside lobbying firms sever ties. Imperium Global Advisors and LeMunyon Group terminated their contracts with Futurewei in November 2023, and Squire Patton Boggs, a global law firm, has not reported lobbying activity for Futurewei since the beginning of 2023. Former US Representative Lee Terry, a Republican from Nebraska, also ended his lobbying contract with Huawei at the end of 2022.

By October 2023, the only firm registered as working on Huawei’s behalf was Sidley Austin, which has remained silent on the matter. Huawei itself has filed its own notice of terminating lobbying efforts at the Capitol, and the company has even closed its offices in Plano, Texas.

Looking Ahead: A Shift in Focus for Huawei

While Huawei’s retreat from Washington signifies a closing chapter in its US ambitions, the company is not without options. In response to the US ban, China’s government has accused the US of unfair practices, while Huawei has focused on developing its domestic market and achieving technological breakthroughs. The company’s recent launch of a new phone using advanced technology highlights its commitment to innovation and self-reliance.

Whether Huawei can fully compensate for its lost US market remains to be seen. However, its recent actions indicate a clear shift in focus, one that prioritizes domestic growth and technological independence in the face of ongoing geopolitical challenges.

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Source(s): SCMP

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