China has pressured US leaders, companies and business groups in recent weeks to fight China-related bills in the US Congress, four sources familiar with the initiative told Reuters in letters to and meetings with a wide range of business actors . .
Letters from the Chinese Embassy in Washington have urged leaders to urge members of Congress to amend or drop specific bills seeking to strengthen U.S. competitiveness, according to sources and the text of a letter sent by the embassy’s economic and commercial office seen by Reuters.
Chinese officials warned companies that they would risk losing market share or revenue in China if the law becomes law, according to the text of the letter.
The Chinese embassy and the head of its economic and commercial office did not return separate requests for comment.
The sources said that China’s request also left some people who received a letter worried that they could be seen as being in breach of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Fara) if they lobbied lawmakers on similar issues in the future.
As a result, none of the sources wanted to be identified as having received or seen the letter.
Pervasive legislation to increase U.S. competition with China and fund much-needed semiconductor manufacturing, known as the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (Usica), was passed by the Senate with bipartisan support in June. A related bill in the House of Representatives called the Eagle Act, which is more strictly policy-focused, has stalled as Congress has been preoccupied with other domestic initiatives.
The language of the letters, which Reuters determined was sent separately to a large number of people, explicitly asking companies to oppose the Usica and Eagle Act.
Beijing sees the measures, which take a hard line against China on human rights and trade issues, as part of a US effort to counter the country’s growing economic and geopolitical power.
“We sincerely hope that you … will play a positive role in urging members of Congress to abandon zero-sum thinking and ideological prejudices, stop proclaiming negative China-related bills, erase negative provisions to create favorable conditions for bilateral economic and trade cooperation before it is too late, ”the Chinese embassy said in a letter sent in early November.
Reuters confirmed the shared language in the letter with the four sources.
“The result of these China-related bills with negative consequences will not be that the interests of US companies will be protected, while the interests of Chinese companies will suffer. It will only harm everyone,” it said.
“Promoting a China-free supply chain will inevitably result in a decline in China’s demand for U.S. products and U.S. companies’ loss of market share and revenue in China,” it said.
Two of the sources said similar messages were conveyed in meetings with staff at the Chinese embassy.
“This is a direct request from a foreign government,” said one source, highlighting the consequences for Fara, which requires people acting on behalf of a foreign power or a political party to disclose these matters to the Ministry of Justice.
Another source said the approach appeared to be geared towards getting companies to delay the legislative process instead of blocking the bills completely.