In the lead-up to November’s presidential election, speculation swirled around then-Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s family and business connections to Chinese companies.
That controversy apparently set the stage for a recent decision by the Biden inaugural committee to refund a donation from former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
“Strategic consulting services”
According to Axios, the California Democrat recently registered as a foreign agent ahead of a lobbying position on behalf of a Chinese company that produces surveillance equipment.
U.S. officials had blacklisted the firm over its alleged ties to the genocide and oppression of Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the communist nation.
Although the donation was just $500, criticism of Boxer’s role with the controversial Chinese company led her to deregister as a foreign agent — and pressure on the Biden team led to the return of her contribution.
Boxer, who served in the Senate from 1993 to 2017, initially registered late last week, declaring that she would be providing “strategic consulting services” for Hikvision, according to Axios.
The company is controlled by China Electronics Technology Group, a state-owned entity reportedly involved in producing equipment used in massive internment camps in the Xinjiang province where an estimated million Uighurs or more have been kept against their will.
“An opportunity to make things better”
These allegations are not new, as the U.S. Department of Commerce confirmed in 2019 when it blacklisted Hikvision for that very reason. Last year, Trump prohibited any U.S. investment in or association with the company over its close ties to the Chinese military.
Boxer ultimately responded to the building backlash, issuing a statement on the matter earlier this week.
“When I am asked to provide strategic advice to help a company operate in a more responsible and humane manner consistent with U.S. law in spirit and letter, it is an opportunity to make things better while helping protect and create American jobs,” she said on Tuesday, according to Axios.
Alas, her association with Hikvision was destined to be short-lived, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported. A short time after issuing her statement, Boxer reportedly deregistered and cut ties with the Chinese firm.
She acknowledged her decision, citing “intense response” to her registration in determining that her “continued involvement has become a negative distraction for the effort” she had hoped to pursue, reports noted.