Tencent Appoints Ex-Internet Association Chief Michael Beckerman To Navigate US-China Trade Tensions

The new hire comes amid a spike in tensions between Washington and Beijing after the former added the latter to a list of Chinese unicorns targeted ahead of trade negotiations set to take place in August.

Tencent has hired a former senior US official to help navigate the ongoing US-China trade war, Politico reported this week.

Former US treasury department deputy general counsel, Roberto Gonzalez, served in the Obama administration and is now partnered with law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

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The move is a first for the Chinese tech giant and is the first time Mr Gonzalez will register for public lobbying, according to the report.

The news comes after TikTok owner ByteDance boosted spending on lobbying efforts to $500,000 to counter allegations from US officials that the popular video sharing platform could be used to harvest data for Beijing, which the Chinese firm denies.

US president Donald Trump has threatened to block transactions of companies and individuals if the Chinese unicorn fails to sell its American operations to a US tech firm by 15 September and cut a portion of the proceeds to the US Treasury.

Former Internet Association staffer Michael Beckerman was hired by the world’s largest startup in February for the its US operations along with a further four lobbying firms, Bloomberg reported.

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The developments come after Taiwanese chipmaker MediaTek Inc hired former director of the Office of Business Liason, Patrick Wilson to steer the company as its vice-president of government affairs amid the trade tensions.

Numerous Chinese companies, including telecoms giant Huawei, Tencent’s WeChat, Alibaba, and TikTok have been targeted by the US officials, who has cited national security concerns.

TikTok will be discussed along with agricultural exports and dollar-yuan exchange rates in upcoming “phase one” trade talks with Washington, but no date has been set due to disagreement on purchasing quotes, among others, reports revealed.

Tencent and streaming service iQIYI also face a potential in Taiwan in September amid accusations of illegal dealings with local service providers, with a revised executive order set to enter force on 3 September.


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