Huawei is no ordinary phone company. It is the eyes and ears of the Chinese Communist Party.
According to the Department of Defense, Huawei is a “Communist Chinese military company” that’s controlled by the People’s Liberation Army.
A former officer of the PLA founded Huawei. Huawei is built upon stolen technology from American companies like Cisco. And it’s engaged in espionage all around the world on behalf of its masters in Beijing.
Which raises some important questions. Should American citizens work on behalf of a Communist Chinese military company? If they do, should they then go on to serve in senior positions in the United States government, making policies that will directly affect our safety and security?
These aren’t academic questions. The Senate is now considering whether to confirm one Christopher Fonzone for a senior legal position in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. By all accounts, Mr. Fonzone is a capable lawyer.I don’t questions his qualifications or his character. But there is reason to question his judgment.
While working as a law partner at Sidley Austin, Mr. Fonzone performed legal work for Huawei, as well as China’s Ministry of Commerce. He performed this work during a critical period when our government was actively exposing Huawei as a Chinese spy company and applying sanctions to it. He also wasn’t just a longtime lawyer in private practice, with longstanding clients to include foreign clients. He had spent most of his career in government—primarily in national security roles. I cannot imagine that he was not aware of the China threat in general, or the Huawei threat in particular. After all, the House Intelligence Committee had produced a landmark report exposing Huawei in 2012 while he served in the Obama administration.
Now, I recognize he didn’t do all that much work for Huawei—just a few billable hours here and there. But the fact remains that he first served Huawei and now he wants to serve in the United States government, nor is he willing to foreclose the possibility of working for such companies in the future.
Unfortunately, Mr. Fonzone is far from alone in this lapse of judgment. There’s a rapidly revolving door in Washington, D.C. that shuttles people in and out of government. Unfortunately, some of those people go on to work for companies with ties to the Chinese government and its armed wing, the People’s Liberation Army, after they cycle out of government.
These individuals are part of what I call the “new China Lobby.” They work at white-shoe law firms, and sprawling multinational corporations, and big banks. Their pockets are lined with Chinese Communist cash just like Hollywood executives, and NBA stars, and Ivory Tower academics. Some of them get very rich by doing by Beijing’s bidding. And they don’t want the gravy train to stop.
Consider a recent article in the Financial Times, which reported that some of the richest banks and investment firms in America have been forming partnerships with Chinese state-run banks. Similarly, some of America’s biggest companies, like Nike and Coca-Cola, are so addicted to access to the Chinese market that they lobbied last year against a bill to crack down on goods made by slave labor—all because that bill would make it more difficult for Coke and Nike to make their products in China and to keep access to the Chinese market.
At the same time as our country wages a cold war against the Chinese Communist Party, some of our best and brightest are taking their talents, to borrow from “King James,” Lebron James, who is up to his ears in Chinese cash, to work for companies that are little more than puppets for the Chinese state. This is deeply troubling. It’s high time the U.S. Senate take a stand against the China Lobby.
That’s why I will, regrettably, oppose Mr. Fonzone’s nomination, though he’s far from the worst offender. It’s time we start drawing a line, and in the future, I will therefore carefully scrutinize nominees for ties to the regime in Beijing and military companies like Huawei.
If you wish to serve in the United States government in the future, let me be very clear: do not do business with the Chinese Communist Party, or its military, or the companies that support it. Stop it today. Don’t take the work. Don’t take the meeting. Don’t cash the check.
“A man cannot serve two masters.” It is as true today as it was in the old days.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.