Hikvision, a major Chinese video surveillance equipment manufacturer, has been placed on the U.S. government’s list of export-controlled entities and restricted from investing in U.S. people and entities for helping the Chinese government monitor the Xinjiang Uighur minority. However, the Washington Post revealed on the 26th that Hikvision has approached a number of outgoing federal congressmen to act as its agents to lobby Washington politicians.
According to information recently released by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), Anthony Moffett, a former Democratic U.S. Representative from Connecticut for eight years and currently a member of Mercury Public Affairs, has been registered as an agent of Hikvision. Moffett, who has registered as a Hikvision agent in the United States, will lobby politically against Hikvision’s alleged involvement in Chinese government surveillance and repression, and is expected to talk with State Department, Treasury Department and Commerce Department officials.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, accepted a $2,000 donation from Moffitt in April, but a lawyer representing Blumenthal stressed that the congressman had no knowledge of Moffitt’s work for Hikvision and would return the entire donation. Blumenthal has tweeted about the Chinese company’s “covert theft and surveillance.
Former Louisiana Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter, who had previously registered as a foreign agent for Hikvision, and former California Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who had also consulted for and registered as an agent for Hikvision, were exposed after President Biden’s inaugural committee returned their $500 donation in January. The relationship came to light and the ensuing public outcry forced her to cancel her proxy registration. Boxer is now co-chair of Mercury Public Affairs’ Los Angeles office.
According to reports, the U.S. Congress is proposing legislation to ban the purchase of Hikvision equipment across the United States, further cracking down on the company. Don Maye, director of operations for IPVM, a U.S.-based video surveillance research organization, said it is terrible that Hikvision, which is controlled by the Chinese government, has been buying off outgoing U.S. congressmen. Hikvision’s main controlling party is China Electronics Technology Group, a mega-central enterprise in China.