Huawei Hires U.S. Group to Help in Public Relations Battle

Huawei recently hired a top Washington public relations group to help it make its case in the US following months of media and political scrutiny for the Chinese company, Financial Times reported.

According to official filings, the Chinese telecoms equipment manufacturer last month hired Burson Cohn & Wolfe, whose chairman Don Baer is also the chairman of the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service and a former aide to Bill Clinton.

BCW was hired alongside Racepoint Global, Huawei’s other US PR representative, to help formulate the company’s media strategy, for a one-off fee of $160,000, as part of a broader legal and media pushback against claims it poses a threat to American national security.

BCW told the Financial Times that it had been hired for a “short, time-limited” project which was now complete, but did not give any more details. According to the filings, Huawei is paying Racepoint Global $55,000 a month until September. Racepoint Global did not respond to a request to comment.

Huawei has been at the centre of sustained media attention in the US since last year when Meng Wanzhou, its chief financial officer, was arrested in Vancouver on charges of breaking American sanctions against Iran. Since then, US officials have charged the company with both sanctions busting and stealing technology from T-Mobile, one of its business partners.

U.S. diplomats have been touring the world trying to persuade foreign allies to exclude Huawei from their 5G networks, arguing that the company’s equipment could be used by the Chinese government for spying, FT adds.

In recent weeks, Huawei has begun to hit back, both with lawsuits and a public push to improve its reputation in the west. A month ago, Guo Ping, one of the company’s chairmen, wrote in the Financial Times that the U.S. was trying to shut Huawei out because it was a competitor to U.S. companies.

According to the Foreign Agents Registration act filings, BCW was paid $160,000 for “services commencing in February 2019,” which included carrying out research into how Huawei is seen in the US, developing a “messaging strategy” and recommending potential “media targets” for briefing.

Racepoint Global agreed to provide “ongoing public relations support for strategy, media relations, influencer relations, analyst relations, crisis, content and social media.”

Asked to state whether Huawei is owned or controlled by a foreign government, political party or other organization, BCW said: “It is our understanding that Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is a private, employee-owned company. That understanding . . . [is] based on publicly available information. We have requested, but not obtained, confirmation of that information from Huawei.”

In its lawsuit against the U.S., Huawei has hired two prominent law firms with links to President Donald Trump – Jones Day, several of whose lawyers have been hired by the Trump administration, and Morgan Lewis, where one of the partners, Sheri Dillon, is Trump’s tax lawyer.

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