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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Chinese national flag can be seen in Beijing, China on April 29, 2020. REUTERS / Thomas Peter

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From Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China has been urging US executives, corporations and corporate groups in recent weeks to fight China-related laws in the US Congress, four sources familiar with the initiative told Reuters in letters and meetings with a variety of stakeholders in business.

Letters from the Chinese embassy in Washington have urged executives to urge members of Congress to amend or drop certain bills designed to improve US competitiveness, according to the sources and text of a letter from the Economic and Trade Bureau Message that Reuters saw.

According to the text of the letter, Chinese officials warned companies that they would risk losing market share or revenue in China if the legislation goes into effect.

The Chinese embassy and the head of its economic and trade bureau have not made separate requests for comments.

The sources said China’s request also worried some people who had received a letter that they might be considered a violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) if they advocate with lawmakers on similar issues in the future .

As a result, none of the sources who received or saw the letter wanted to be identified.

In June, the Senate passed a comprehensive bill to strengthen US competition with China and fund much-needed semiconductor production, known as the US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). A related bill in the House called the Eagle Act, which is more political, has stalled as Congress was preoccupied with other national initiatives.

The language in the letters, which Reuters found sent separately to large numbers of people, specifically urges companies to oppose USICA and the Eagle Act.

Beijing sees the tough line against China on human rights and trade issues as part of US efforts to counter the country’s growing economic and geopolitical power.

“We sincerely hope that you … will play a positive role in calling on members of Congress to abandon the zero-sum mindset and ideological prejudice, stop promoting negative China-related bills, remove negative provisions to create favorable conditions for the bilateral economy to establish and trade cooperation before it is too late, “the Chinese embassy said in a letter in early November.

Reuters confirmed the letter’s common language with the four sources.

“The result of these negative impact bills related to China will not be to protect the interests of US corporations while those of Chinese corporations suffer. It will only harm everyone, “it said.

“Promoting a China-free supply chain will inevitably lead to a decline in Chinese demand for US products and a loss of market share and revenue for American companies in China,” it said.

Two of the sources said that similar messages were delivered during meetings with staff at the Chinese embassy.

“It is a direct request from a foreign government,” one of the sources said, highlighting the ramifications for FARA, which requires individuals acting on behalf of a foreign power or political party to report these relationships to the Justice Department.

A second source said the approach aimed to get companies to delay the legislative process rather than completely blocking the bills.

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