Former Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has filed as a lobbyist for the Chinese telecom vendor ZTE, according to U.S. government registration forms.
Lieberman registered along with two other attorneys at his law firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres. The other two attorneys are Clarine Nardi Riddle, Lieberman’s former chief of staff in the U.S. Senate, and Nicholas Rendino.
Riddle told the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics that Lieberman is not actually “lobbying” for ZTE but rather is gathering concerns about ZTE from lawmakers and officials. She said, “His mission is to listen, assess, and then make recommendations to ZTE on how to address U.S. national security concerns.”
However, the documents Lieberman and his two colleagues filed are formal lobbyist registration papers.
Both ZTE and Huawei suffered blows in 2018 when U.S. government officials claimed their telecom equipment posed a national security risk. One of the early casualties of Huawei’s troubles was William Plummer, who had for seven years led Huawei’s outreach efforts in Washington, D.C., but who was laid off in April 2018, along with other staff at the D.C. office.
Plummer Breaks Silence on Huawei
In late December, Plummer penned a blog on LinkedIn with some of his musings about Huawei. He alluded to an often-mentioned sentiment that the company consistently favors its Chinese executives over local employees. He said the company bears a lot of the blame for its own dilemma.
“Arrogance, hubris, pride, the imagination that Chinese national employees know best even when dealing with matters they frankly don’t even begin to understand,” writes Plummer. “Until and unless Huawei diversifies its leadership and learns to trust and rely on non-Chinese national employees – both at headquarters and in the field – they will always be suspect, and they will be increasingly challenged, as we are seeing on a daily basis now.”
Plummer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from SDxCentral. But his arguments may offer some support for Lieberman’s lobbying efforts on behalf of ZTE. At least that company is tapping seasoned American diplomats to look for a solution.