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When the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE was hit with crippling United States sanctions in April, it chose a very American solution: It loaded up on Washington lobbyists.

今年4月,中国电信公司中兴通讯(ZTE)在美国的制裁下遭受重创,它决定采取一种非常美国化的解决方案:大量雇用华盛顿的说客。

For three months, the company, based in Shenzen, engaged in a furious — and ultimately successful — campaign to win a reprieve from penalties that threatened to put it out of business and derail diplomatic relations between the United States and China. It hired former lawmakers, legislative aides and a Trump campaign official to try to sway lawmakers with the kind of behind-the-scenes lobbying that President Trump has long derided as a problem of the “swamp.”

三个月来,这家深圳公司开展了一场声势浩大、最终取得胜利的行动,旨在暂缓可能使其破产和损害中美关系的惩罚。公司聘请了前立法委员、立法助手、特朗普竞选团队的一名官员,试图通过幕后游说来影响立法委员,川普总统一直嘲笑这种方式为“沼泽”难题。

Top lawmakers met with ZTE lobbyists. High-profile senators mingled at a party given by Hogan Lovells, the primary law firm working on ZTE’s behalf. And the law firm’s political action committee made donations to legislators who had the power to influence ZTE’s fate.

国会领袖会见了中兴聘请的说客。多名资深参议员参加了代表中兴的主要律师事务所霍金路伟(Hogan Lovells)举办的一场聚会。该公司的政治行动委员会向那些有权影响中兴命运的议员捐款。

Some of the lobbyists involved privately boasted that their efforts scuttled an attempt by Congress to keep ZTE’s sanctions in place.

参与这些活动的一些游说者私下吹嘘说,他们的努力挫败了试图维持中兴制裁议案的国会。

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Although Mr. Van Hollen declined to speculate on whether the lobbying swayed any senators, he said the company’s effort should not be ignored. “I can’t read their minds,” he said. “I can only read the disclosure reports, and they show that ZTE spent more than any other entity in a short period of time.”

虽然范•霍伦拒绝猜测游说是否影响了参议员的投票,但他说,中兴的努力不容忽视。“我无法读解其他参议员心里在想什么,”他说。“我只能读公开的文件,文件显示,中兴在很短的时间里花在游说上的支出超过了任何其他实体。”

For ZTE, the stakes were high. While not a household name in the United States, the company is considered a national treasure in China, employing tens of thousands of workers and powering many of the country’s smartphones. It was also a large customer of Qualcomm, a chip maker in San Diego that the administration has identified as critical to America’s success in building the next generation of wireless technology.

此事对中兴干系重大。虽然在美国不是一个家喻户晓的名字,但这家公司在中国的地位很重要,它雇有数万名员工,为中国的许多智能手机提供核心部件。中兴还是高通(Qualcomm)的一个大客户,美国政府已将这家总部设在圣迭戈的芯片制造商认定为对美国成功打造下一代无线通讯技术的关键。

But ZTE’s future began looking dubious in mid-April, when the Commerce Department banned the company from buying any American products for seven years as punishment for lying about efforts to resolve the issues that led to the sanctions violation. The ban threatened to cripple ZTE’s global telecommunications business and put Chinese employees out of work, a huge embarrassment for President Xi Jinping of China.

中兴从今年4月中旬开始显得命运堪忧,当时美国商务部下令禁止其在今后七年内购买任何美国产品,惩罚的理由是这家公司在公司违反制裁问题的处理措施上撒了谎。禁令对中兴构成极大威胁,可能会摧毁其在全球的电信业务,使大批中国员工失业,这对中国来说是个很大的尴尬。

ZTE quickly retained Hogan Lovells, whose lead lobbyist was Norm Coleman, the former senator of Minnesota, according to congressional lobbying filings. Hogan Lovells spearheaded the congressional lobbying and also handled legal aspects, including negotiations with the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, according to people familiar with the lobbying push.

美国国会的游说存档记录显示,中兴很快聘请了霍金路伟,这家律所的主要说客是明尼苏达州前参议员诺姆•科尔曼(Norm Coleman)。据了解这一行动的知情人士说,霍金路伟是这次国会游说活动的带头人,还担负了涉及法律问题的工作,包括与美国商务部工业安全局(Bureau of Industry and Security)的谈判。

Using its subsidiary, ZTE USA, the company paid Hogan Lovells $1.28 million through the end of June, the period covered by the most recent filings, to lobby the White House, Congress, the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department on “national security concerns” and other issues related to the sanctions.

截至6月底(最近的归档记录只覆盖到6月底),中兴已通过其美国子公司ZTE USA向霍金路伟支付了128万美元,作为就“国家安全问题”及其他与制裁有关的问题游说白宫、国会、商务部和财政部的费用。

Because Hogan Lovell’s lobbying was done through ZTE’s American entity, its lobbyists were only required to file disclosures with Congress that revealed relatively little about their activities. By contrast, companies representing foreign clients are required to complete more detailed filings with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

因为霍金路伟的游说是受中兴在美国的实体的委托,霍金路伟的说客只需向美国国会提交相对较少的披露文件。相比之下,代表外国客户的事务所则需要根据《外国代理人注册法案》向美国司法部提交更详细的文件。

ZTE also hired the lobbying and public relations firm Mercury Public Affairs, which relied on a former Trump campaign and transition official to lobby officials in the White House and Commerce Department. Mercury registered its lobbying with the Justice Department, explaining in its filings that “the work done under this arrangement may inure to the benefit of the People’s Republic of China.” The filings reveal that the firm was paid $75,000 a month to engage in work such as “setting up meetings with U.S. government officials related to U.S. sanctions on the foreign principal.”

中兴还聘请了游说公关公司水星公共事务(Mercury Public Affairs),这家公司靠一名前特朗普竞选团队和过渡团队官员来游说白宫和商务部的官员。水星公共事务对其游说活动在美国司法部进行了注册,并在提交的文件中解释说,“根据这一安排所进行的工作可能会有利于中华人民共和国。”其提交的文件显示,水星公共事务每月得到了7.5万美元的报酬,用于从事诸如“就有关美国对该外国主体制裁的问题,安排与美国政府官员会晤”之类的工作。

The fate of the telecom company seemed to improve in May, after Mr. Xi made a personal appeal to Mr. Trump on its behalf and Mr. Trump, concerned about relations with China, promised publicly to help. On June 7, the Commerce Department said it had reached a deal to rescind the sanctions in exchange for the ZTE paying a $1.4 billion penalty, replacing its senior executives and embedding a team of compliance officers who were answerable to the American government.

今年5月,北京曾亲自替中兴向特朗普求情,而特朗普出于对中美关系的担心公开承诺予以帮助之后,中兴的命运似乎出现转机。6月7日,美国商务部表示,已与中兴达成了取消制裁的协议,并用下列做法取代制裁:中兴支付14亿美元的罚款,撤换高管层,并任命一批向美国政府负责的合规官员。

Republican and Democratic lawmakers, outraged over the prospect of a Chinese technology company escaping American sanctions, moved swiftly to prevent the White House from lifting the ban. Lawmakers including Mr. Van Hollen, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, tucked a provision into a military authorization bill that would reinstate the ban. It appeared to have support from leaders on both sides of the aisle.

共和党和民主党议员对这家中国技术公司逃避美国制裁的前景感到愤怒,他们迅速采取行动,以阻止白宫取消禁令。包括范•霍伦、佛罗里达州共和党参议员马尔科•卢比奥(Marco Rubio),以及参议院民主党领袖、纽约州参议员查克•舒默(Chuck Schumer)在内的国会议员,在授权军费预算的法案中附加了一项恢复禁令的条款。这个条款似乎得到了两党领导人的支持。

Lobbyists for ZTE worked to win over wavering officials by citing Mr. Trump’s Twitter messages expressing support for the company and skepticism about the sanctions, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the push. They also relied on more typical talking points about the damage the sanctions would cause.

据了解游说活动一手情况的人士说,为中兴游说的人通过引用特朗普表示支持中兴、怀疑制裁的推文,来争取动摇官员的立场。说客们还使用了更常见的关于制裁会造成损害的要点。

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Two days later, on July 20, news reports revealed that the compromise legislation the conference committee had drafted would include a watered-down version of a provision to reinstate penalties against ZTE.

两天后,也就是7月20日,新闻报道透露,联合委员会起草的妥协法案中,旨在恢复对中兴惩罚的条款在措辞上有所缓和。

Mr. Graham defended the approach amid bipartisan objections. “If it’s going to get the bill vetoed, I want to fix it,” Mr. Graham told Bloomberg News.

这种做法遭到了两党议员的反对,格雷厄姆为缓和语言做了辩护。“如果那个条款将让法案遭到总统否决的话,我就要解决条款的问题,”格雷厄姆对彭博新闻社(Bloomberg News)说。

Over the years, Hogan Lovells’s political action committee has donated thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Mr. Graham and Mr. Royce, as well as to those of the senators Claire McCaskill and Tim Scott, who also sat on the conference committee. The lobbying firm even donated $2,000 to Mr. Royce’s campaign this cycle, despite the fact that he is not seeking re-election this fall.

多年来,霍金路伟的政治行动委员会给格雷厄姆和罗伊斯的竞选活动捐献了数千美元,还给参议员克莱尔•麦卡斯基尔(Claire McCaskill)和蒂姆•斯科特(Tim Scott)的竞选活动捐献了数千美元,麦卡斯基尔和斯科特也都是参众两院联合委员会的成员。霍金路伟甚至在本竞选周期里给罗伊斯的竞选活动捐献了2000美元,尽管他今年秋天并不需要竞选连任。

It is standard for PACs affiliated with major lobbying firms or trade groups to spread money around to powerful members of Congress who sit on committees overseeing issues that could affect their clients.

对隶属于主要游说公司或行业团体的政治行动委员会来说,把献金撒给国会中有权有势的议员是标准做法,这些议员所在的委员会负责监督的问题可能会影响游说公司的客户。

After Congress removed the stronger ZTE language, Mercury officials boasted to clients and prospective clients that the firm played a pivotal role in killing the sanctions and could help other foreign clients being targeted by the government, according to two people familiar with conversations on the subject.

据两位知情人士透露,在国会删掉了有关中兴条款的强硬措辞之后,水星公共事务的负责人向客户和潜在客户吹嘘说,公司在搞掉制裁上起了关键作用,并有可能帮助其他成为政府目标的外国客户。

Officials from Mercury and Hogan Lovells did not respond to requests for comment.

水星公共事务和霍金路伟的负责人都没有回复记者的置评请求。

The legislation, which was passed on Wednesday, contained provisions that will strengthen national security reviews of Chinese investments in the United States, a victory for many who have criticized Chinese trade practices. But the provisions that relate to ZTE merely ban the government from buying its products, steps many federal agencies have already taken.

本周三通过的法案包含了一些加强对中国在美投资的国家安全审查的条款,对许多批评中国贸易做法的人来说,这是一个胜利。但有关中兴的条款只是禁止美国政府购买其产品,许多联邦机构已经采取了这种做法。

“This is how #China influences our government policies,” Mr. Rubio tweeted last week. “They spent a small fortune lobbying congress to drop restrictions on #ZTE & it worked.”

“中国就是这样影响我们的政府政策的,”卢比奥上周发推说。“他们花大钱游说国会降低对中兴的限制,现在起作用了。”

On Wednesday, Mr. Rubio announced that he was voting against the military authorization bill, which he otherwise supported, because of the weaker provisions on ZTE.

卢比奥周三宣布,他会对军费授权法案投反对票,因为其中有关中兴的条款被削弱,而他本来是支持军费法案的。

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Congressional aides said that some other Republican senators, including Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, were the strongest voices on the conference committee for easing penalties on ZTE. “Congress didn’t need to muddy the waters by halting the penalty, which could have negatively impacted ongoing negotiations pertaining to trade and sanctions enforcement,” Mr. Perdue said in a statement.

国会助手们表示,包括阿肯色州的汤姆•科顿(Tom Cotton)和乔治亚州的戴维•珀杜(David Perdue)在内的其他共和党参议员,是参众两院联合委员会中最强烈支持减轻对中兴处罚的人。“国会不必通过停止处罚来把水进一步搅浑,处罚本来已给正在进行的有关贸易和执行制裁的谈判产生了负面影响,”珀杜在一份声明中说。