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Blakeslee vs. China: round two 

Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee believes members of the Chinese Consulate blocked his bill to declare Tibetan Awareness Day in California, so he’s firing back with legislation.

Blakeslee, a Republican who represents SLO County, authored Assembly Bill 1334, which would require representatives from foreign countries to register as lobbyists. It’s a direct response to active opposition by the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, and he’s not shy about the impetus behind his new bill.

“If this sends a message that they picked the wrong fight, I’m happy that they received that message,” Blakeslee said of the Chinese Consulate. “There are consequences to that type of behavior.”

Blakeslee also authored a bill that would have declared March 10 as Tibetan Awareness Day in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising. The seemingly routine legislation was far from it, however. Members of the Chinese Consulate quickly stepped in to block the bill, meeting with Assembly members and sending letters of opposition. Their effort was apparently effective, and the bill was sent back to committee where it remains, essentially stagnant.

In an earlier interview, a consulate spokesman said Blakeslee’s bill was based on false information and could harm U.S.-Chinese relations. He further said conversations between legislators and consulate members is normal.

Blakeslee said the instance was the first he could recall of foreign representatives lobbying state officials. He hasn’t let the issue die and wants to force foreign representatives who try to influence California legislation to register as lobbyists.

“If you’re going to wine legislators and dine legislators and host trips abroad like other lobbyists, then you should register like other lobbyists,” Blakeslee said.

If it passes, the bill would amend the Political Reform Act of 1974 to include foreign representatives. The act governs what lobbyists can do to persuade legislators in California, but doesn’t include foreign representatives, Blakeslee said.

“I don’t see why our citizens should be held to one standard and citizens representing another country should be held to a lower standard,” he explained.

Blakeslee admitted the bill may appear vindictive to some. Regardless, he wants the message sent.

“So, you might characterize this as a shot across the bow,” he summed up.

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