search icon
Live chat

Ashley Yablon: How I Exposed a CCP Tech Giant’s Elaborate Scheme to Evade US Sanctions

“As I was scrolling through it, I saw a section of the contract that was titled, ‘How we will get around U.S. export laws’ … And I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw that, and I knew that I needed to do something,” says attorney and whistleblower Ashley Yablon.

In 2011, Yablon landed his dream job working as general counsel for ZTE, a multi-billion dollar Chinese telecom company subsidized by the regime. He quickly learned, however, that ZTE was under investigation for breaking U.S. sanction laws.

“They had set up shell companies that were buying these component parts … and then selling them to the embargoed countries,” says Yablon.

We discuss his book, “Standing Up to China: How a Whistleblower Risked Everything for His Country.” Yablon and his family had to go into hiding after his affidavit to the FBI detailing ZTE’s shocking activities was leaked to the public.

“My wife was followed in a car by a Chinese gentleman as she was walking the dog down the street. And with each turn that she made, the car turned with her. And as she picked up the pace, the car picked up the pace, until she was in a full sprint all the way up to the house,” says Yablon.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jan Jekielek:

Ashley Yablon, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Ashley Yablon:

Thank you so much for having me.

Mr. Jekielek:

I just finished reading your book, Standing Up to China: How a Whistleblower Risked Everything for His Country. What a tale. It’s almost hard to believe, except that I know a lot of the realities around communist China, so it’s not actually that hard to believe. But how did you stand up to China? Why don’t you tell me about that?

Mr. Yablon:

Sure. I was the attorney for one of the largest telecom companies in the world, a Chinese telecom company named ZTE. I got my dream job to go there and started in 2011. I quickly learned that ZTE was under House investigation for being a threat to national security here in the United States. And a few months later an article came out in Reuters magazine where they got a copy of a contract between ZTE and the country of Iran, and ZTE was selling hundreds of millions of dollars of spying technology. The problem was that they were using U.S. component parts to do that.

And again, that’s against U.S. export laws, which say that you cannot sell component parts to embargoed countries such as Iran. What ZTE had done, and what I discovered, was that ZTE had created an elaborate scheme where they had set up shell companies that were buying these component parts. Then, through a series of interactions, were getting those component parts back to China, and then selling them to the embargoed countries.

What ZTE was going to do once the U.S. was investigating them was to lie. They wanted me to be the scapegoat for them saying that they were not doing anything illegal. That’s when I became what is known as a whistleblower, and I had to go to the FBI and explain what was going on.

Mr. Jekielek:

Well, you didn’t have to, right?

Mr. Yablon:

Correct.

Mr. Jekielek:

You chose to.

Mr. Yablon:

I chose to. And so, as an attorney, that’s a good point. We have a thing called attorney-client privilege, and certainly when your client comes to you and tells you they’ve done something illegal in the past, you as an attorney have a duty to keep that confidential—that’s the attorney-client privilege. The exception to that is the crime fraud exception, and that’s when your client comes to you as an attorney, and they tell you that they’re going to commit a crime in the future.

At that point you have an ethical duty as an attorney to report that. That’s what ZTE was doing. They were telling me that they were going to further a crime. And this wasn’t a small petty crime. This was a crime against our country and a threat to our security and our democracy. So, I felt obligated to do this, not only as an attorney, but as a U.S. citizen.

Mr. Jekielek:

Before we dig into this whole thing, this whole caper in 2017 resulted in one of the largest settlements in U.S. history.

Mr. Yablon:

Correct. In 2017, ZTE and the government entered into a settlement where ZTE paid the largest penalty at the time of 1.2 billion dollars in fines and penalties.

Mr. Jekielek:

First of all, this was your dream job, not specifically because you wanted to work for a Chinese telecom company. This was your dream job because strangely, at least to me, and perhaps to our viewers, you were dead set on becoming a general counsel for a large corporation. So, that’s very interesting. That was your dream?

Mr. Yablon:

Correct. When I graduated from law school, I got out and was looking for a job. I had a mentor, the one who had actually encouraged me to go to law school, and I had lunch with him. At the time he was the general counsel of a company. A general counsel, again, is a little different than being an attorney at a law firm. At a law firm you’re practicing one type of law, but you have many clients.

As a general counsel, you have one client, but you’re practicing many types of law. That interested me more, this idea of assisting business, versus working at a law firm and just billing business. I liked the idea of partnering with a company and assisting them through all the legal aspects that they might have.

When he mentioned what a general counsel did, I was immediately intrigued, and that’s what I wanted to do. For the next six years, I spent that whole time learning what he told me to do, which was to round out my tool belt. What he meant was, learn how to do a little bit of everything. A good general counsel doesn’t need to be a subject matter expert on everything, but a generalist on everything.

I took that advice, and I went to work at law firms and learned litigation and tried cases and took many depositions. I went and learned contracts at another law firm, and learned how to do what they called transactional work. Then, I went to another law firm and learned how to do HR and employment law.

After years of working at these law firms and rounding out that tool belt, I had the opportunity to go to work at the lowest level of McAfee, a U.S. based antivirus software company in Texas. After four years of working there, I had an opportunity to be the assistant general counsel for Huawei.

Again, I thought, “What an unbelievable opportunity. Here’s a multi-billion-dollar international company and I’m assistant general counsel.” I had no idea of what I was stepping into working at Huawei, but I quickly learned the difference between American culture and Eastern culture, or specifically Chinese culture.

Mr. Jekielek:

And perhaps, I would argue communist culture. But okay. How is it that you didn’t understand what Huawei was, or what did you learn Huawei was?

Mr. Yablon:

I didn’t understand what it was because, to be honest, and like I talk about in the book, I didn’t want to know. Initially, I was laser-focused on just working my way up that corporate ladder and working my way up to be a general counsel. What Huawei was or what any company was wasn’t really my interest. To your point, I quickly learned and soon saw what the red flags were of working with a Chinese telecom company such as Huawei, and then eventually ZTE.

The way it works at these large Chinese tech companies, 80 per cent of your staff are Chinese nationals here on visas. Only 20 per cent of the staff are U.S. citizens. Part of that 80 per cent were Chinese attorneys who were here in the general counsel role. They’re not licensed to practice here in the United States, but one of them was asking me about the law.

I said, “Well, we need to do this. This is the law. This is a requirement.” I remember that she leaned in and said, “No, it’s just a suggestion.” And I said, “No, no, no. It’s the law. We are required to do this.” And she leaned in for effect and said, “No, it’s just a suggestion.”

I quickly learned that is their culture. That’s what they believe. The way we have a moral compass or we believe that things are immoral, they don’t see it that way. It’s not that they’re immoral people, but it’s that they don’t look at business or decisions like that in the same way that we do here in the West.

Mr. Jekielek:

That didn’t make you reconsider things?

Mr. Yablon:

At the time, no. It made me question, but didn’t make me stop in my hubris or my desire to want to work my way up to be the general counsel. Like I said, looking back now there were a number of what should have been called red flags, and I detail those quite a bit in the book.

Mr. Jekielek:

Please tell me about that.

Mr. Yablon:

Sure. When I first started at ZTE in October of 2011, it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and a meeting was called in the main conference room with all the executives. Like I mentioned, all the executives that were here in the U.S. from ZTE were Chinese nationals. The only executive who was not a Chinese national and was a U.S. citizen was me as their general counsel. The meeting was called, and there was an article that had come out where the House Intelligence Committee was investigating both Huawei, my former employer, and ZTE as a threat to US national security.

And they looked at me. All eyes turned on me, and they said, “Well, Ashley, what do we do?” I said, “We need to hire a large Washington, DC-based lobbying firm to assist us with this House investigation.” And they huddled, they spoke in Mandarin, then came back to me and said, “Well, you’re our attorney. We don’t understand. Can’t you handle this?”

I had to explain to them that no, we need a high-powered DC lobbying firm to assist us. The red flag that came out of that meeting was, “Yes, we can go and look for a law firm to assist us, but it’s going to be you, Ashley, who’s going to stand up in front of the Congress and say that we’re doing nothing wrong.” Again, looking back that was a huge red flag, but I didn’t see it, because I didn’t want to see it.

Here I am as their general counsel and I felt I had a duty and a job to assist my company in what was a huge scandal and what was a huge investigation. Four months later, Reuters got a copy of the contract with ZTE, and I want to preface this, ZTE China. I was the general counsel for ZTE USA, but what Reuters had gotten a copy of was the contract between ZTE China and the country of Iran.

What it contained was that ZTE was selling hundreds of millions of dollars of spying technology, whether it was cell towers, or whether it was modems at the time. They also got a copy of an over 900-page packing list. We all know what a packing list is when we go to IKEA, and we open up the box and it tells us everything that’s in there.

Now imagine a 900-page packing list that’s telling you not only everything that’s in these huge wooden crates that have been shipped to Iran, but it’s also telling you the component parts within them. It might mention one spying tower, but it also mentioned that it contained this US-based company widget and another US-based gizmo. So, that was the problem. I remember one of the Chinese attorneys, when I said, “Why is everyone here so concerned about how they got it? We should be more focused on what we do now.”

She said to me, “Because now we can’t hide anything.” When she said we can’t hide anything, that was the major red flag for me to realize, “Uh-oh, I’m really in a real pickle here.” When all those things went down when I was there in 2012 and right before I left, ZTE denied everything, was stonewalling our government, was not cooperating, was not providing documents, and it continued that front, like you said, for five years.

The U.S. put a full court press on ZTE by every branch of the government, whether it was the Department of Commerce, you name it, the FBI, all of them were working towards a case against ZTE as well as Huawei, but mainly ZTE. Again, ZTE is not publicly traded here in the U.S. It is traded in China, but at the time it was also traded in Hong Kong, and the U.S. government somehow was able to get ZTE off the Hong Kong exchange.

The moment that happened ZTE said, “We give up. We’ll comply and we’ll pay whatever we need to. We need to keep being able to do business.” So, it was at that moment that they paid the largest penalty, which we mentioned earlier was 1.2 billion dollars.

Mr. Jekielek:

The way you’re describing it, this is just whatever the cost of doing business is, and that’s what we’ll do.

Mr. Yablon:

Correct.

Mr. Jekielek:

Explain to me what you learned about the philosophy of business and how the Chinese Communist Party plays in decision-making, and also their attitude or approach to dealing with business in the West.

Mr. Yablon:

If you think about ZTE, ZTE went out of its way to show to the U.S. government that they were not run by the Chinese government. That was their whole angle. That’s why they wanted to show they were not a threat to U.S. national security. But the reality is that they are run by the Chinese government, or subsidized, or assisted.

That’s hard for us to understand here in the West. And so everything is for business. Everything is to keep business going. I liken it to water that’s going to find its way through a crack or a hole. You can stop them here. And the U.S. government was able to do that with the penalties and sanctions.

But immediately we saw, even after ZTE got penalized and was put on a probation, within less than a year, they were fined again for breaking the rules and regulations again. They had to pay an additional 1.2 billion dollars.

If you think about it, they have paid nearly two-and-a-half billion dollars in penalties, and as recently as just this year were in trouble again for violating terms of the order. In our minds, we think that they will stop doing this, but in theirs they just won’t. It’s just their culture of always finding a way around things.

Mr. Jekielek:

I would like to highlight the fact that this complete culture of immorality is a hallmark of communist culture. You saw it in the Soviet Union. You saw it communist Poland where my parents came from, and you see it in China. Sometimes people equate this sort of thing to Chinese culture. And many, many Chinese have explained to me, nothing can be further from the truth.

Mr. Yablon:

Right.

Mr. Jekielek:

And you’re correct. When did you fully realize what you had gotten yourself into?

Mr. Yablon:

I mentioned that the House Intelligence Committee was doing an investigation and they wanted to come in, I believe it was April of 2012, to Shenzhen where both ZTE and Huawei are based. And they came there and they didn’t want a dog and pony show. They wanted to see concrete evidence that both companies were not run by the Chinese government.

ZTE went out of its way to show that they were not run by the Chinese government and were going to show that to the U.S. committee. Huawei took just to the opposite course and really didn’t care about showing that they were run by the government or not. When I was there in China, and again, that Reuters article had just come out, I was led to a room, because I needed to see this contract. I needed to see what it truly said.

They wouldn’t give me a copy of the contract. I was led into a dark room without any windows, like something out of a movie, and they wouldn’t give me an actual physical copy. They projected it up on a wall. I had 15 minutes to look through this contract. Every international contract is the same. It’s split right down the middle. One side is in English, and the other is in the native language. Here it was in Chinese.

But as I was scrolling through it, I saw a section of the contract that was titled, How We Will Get Around U.S. Export Laws. It laid out all the shell companies. It described what each one would do. And I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw that, and I knew that I needed to do something. Fast forward to later that afternoon.

That’s when the heads of ZTE said to me, “They say that we have all this spying technology in Iran. What if we go over there and we take out all the U.S. component parts?” I said, “Well, it’s too late. They already know that you’ve shipped it over.” And they said, “Okay, what if we lie and say that we never shipped anything over there?”

I said, “Again, they already know you’ve done it.” And each scheme, each idea, I would have to shoot down until finally they said, “We will comply, and we will give the U.S. government all the information they want to know.” I thought, “Great. Finally, we’re going to be doing the right thing.”

When I turned around, one of the Chinese attorneys who worked for me said, “Ashley, they’re speaking in Mandarin right now behind your back, and they’re saying that they’re not going to comply and they’re going to make you, Ashley, the scapegoat, and that you’re going to have to swear to their lies.” So, I immediately flew back home to the United States.

I’m a lawyer. My wife at the time was a lawyer. All my friends are lawyers. But I ended up hiring five different lawyers to assist me in this, one being a criminal lawyer who said I had criminal implications. That’s when my attorney worked with the FBI and I gave them the information that led to an affidavit, which pretty much became what is in the order that is out against ZTE today.

Mr. Jekielek:

This caused quite a big issue for you, because you were still working for this company. You provided this very damning affidavit, which as I understand reads very similarly to the final settlement order that they signed in 2017. Someone released this onto the world, and then your life changed.

Mr. Yablon:

Correct. What happened was I did give that information to the FBI. I spent two days providing them with all the details of everything I knew; the shell companies, and the people involved. They created the affidavit, and I was told by my attorneys that I needed to go back to work as if nothing happened. The affidavit was presented to a judge to sign an order to allow them to come to the ZTE office and look for documents and do what we consider a raid. That affidavit was going to be filed under seal, meaning privileged. No one was to know it ever existed.

But what happened was, it got leaked. That’s when I got the phone call from a journalist who had a copy of it and said he was running the story. Obviously I was in a panic thinking that my life was over. And we could never find out, to your point, who leaked that affidavit. But somewhere in the clerk’s office, somehow it got leaked, and that’s when everything just went crazy in my life.

Mr. Jekielek:

Even to this day you have no idea?

Mr. Yablon:

No. I’ve been approached by several people with what I like to call grassy knoll theories on how that was leaked, and why it was leaked, but I don’t have a definitive answer as to how or who leaked it.

Mr. Jekielek:

You don’t at least have a working theory?

Mr. Yablon:

I have a working theory. Yes, I do. My theory is this. And as an attorney, I know how clerk’s offices work. Certainly, a lot of big things that should be filed under seal are sometimes leaked. I have a feeling that someone in the clerk’s office who is friends with some kind of journalist or someone in the media provided that, and I think that’s how it got leaked.

Mr. Jekielek:

That’s the least grassy knoll explanation of such a thing I’ve ever heard, I think.

Mr. Yablon:

Probably so. Probably so.

Mr. Jekielek:

Why don’t you explain to me what you were concerned about, and why things went haywire?

Mr. Yablon:

You have to realize what I had just provided to the FBI. It ended up being 32 pages of an affidavit of all the information. What the information said was, “Here is how ZTE is getting around U.S. export laws, selling to the embargoed countries, and making hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in revenue.” So, you can only imagine that when the affidavit gets leaked and ZTE gets in trouble, I have just cost this multi-billion-dollar company billions of dollars in income and revenue by my leaking and giving away the secret sauce of how they went about doing it.

And I knew that I’ve also put a threat on my life. Again, I’m thinking the Chinese government is running the company and that they’re not going to be very happy with this U.S. citizen who’s just cost them all this money. And so, when the article was going to be coming out, I knew it was going to be published.

My wife and I were sitting at our computer just hitting the refresh button, waiting and waiting for that article to come out, because I knew my life would never be the same after that. And that’s certainly what happened. The moment it hit, we jumped up. My wife said to me, “We have 30 minutes to get out of this house or we’re going to get killed.” That’s what we believed. Immediately, my cell phone just blew up from every news agency calling me, you just can’t imagine.

Finally, I had to turn my phone off. But we went into hiding, and went to the FBI here in Dallas and met with them. My criminal lawyer turned to me when we were at the FBI office and he said, “I’ve been coming here as an attorney representing clients for 30 or 40 years.” His words were, “I’ve never seen the level of heavy hitters that the FBI has flown in to meet with you on your case.”

The FBI apologized and claimed that they had no idea how this information got leaked, but offered my wife and I the Witness Protection Program and offered to come and check our home to see if it was bugged, and a number of other things. So, we had a real decision to make. I also had to go back to work. My employment lawyer said, “We need to preserve your employment claims against ZTE, so you need to go back to the office.”

I thought, “How in the world am I going to go back to the office when I’ve done all that?” But I did. We had four FBI agents around the building in plain clothes. I had what I referred to at the time as the bat phone, which was a number that I could call at any time and FBI would be there in three to four minutes.

And I did have to use that number on one occasion. But that’s how my life turned upside down. And then I was receiving death threats from ZTE saying that they were going to kill me. These death threats were coming in on ZTE telephones. All ZTE employees are given a ZTE-issued cell phone. As you move up within ZTE and new models come out, you turn in your phone, and you’re given a new phone. The older phones are given to newer employees.

But the phone number was from my former employee, a ZTE employee, a Chinese national, saying from ZTE, “We, ZTE, are going to kill you. We’re going to kill your family. We’re going to kill your children. We’re going to kill your children’s children.” It went on and on. It wasn’t just one, but it was several. If you think about a text message, with mine you could just keep scrolling and scrolling and it kept saying the same things over and over again. I ended up giving all that information and those text messages to the FBI.

Mr. Jekielek:

What were you thinking at this time?

Mr. Yablon:

I was scared to death, because this wasn’t just a random employee. Here I have not only a company, but I have a whole country, the Chinese country after me. The FBI even came and did a sweep of my house. We were concerned that my house was bugged. Even after the sweep, my wife and I wouldn’t have conversations inside the house. All the discussions were outside with the sprinklers on.

It was really something out of a movie. My wife was followed in a car by a Chinese gentleman as she was walking the dog down the street. With each turn that she made, the car turned with her. As she picked up the pace, the car picked up the pace until she was in a full sprint all the way up to the house. And that’s when the car drove off.

Things like that happened. At a restaurant 25 miles away from the house, we saw two Chinese gentlemen. As we sat down, they sat down right next to us. Again, like something out of a movie, both in black suits, white shirts, black ties. They sat down right next to us. They were given their menus. They threw their menus straight down, turned directly to my wife and I, and just stared.

I mentioned the bat phone, the number I could call at any time to call the FBI. I reached down as I was holding the menu and I’m talking to my wife just like you and I are speaking and we’re holding it and she can see it out of the corner of her eye. And I said, “This isn’t good.” And she said, “No, it’s not.”

So, I fumble for my cell phone. I dial and hit the FBI. I said, “We’re in a bad situation and we are at..” And before I could even say where we were, they said, “We know where you are, and we’ll be there in three minutes.” And that’s what happened.

I could see people coming in quickly. They didn’t look like restaurant patrons. And the moment they were coming in, my wife and I got up. The two Chinese gentlemen got up at the same time. I said, “They’re right here,” to the FBI. And we ran out, jumped in our car and sped away.

Mr. Jekielek:

You did get offered this witness protection, but you didn’t want it?

Mr. Yablon:

I didn’t. My wife and I talked about it. I came home and I told her what had been offered to us. My wife was an attorney, and she had just started her own law practice. I thought, “She has her own practice that she’s going to give up, and wouldn’t be able to speak to my family.” So, we made a decision and in fact we said, “We’ll just take our chances.” And that’s what we’ve done for over a decade now.

Eventually, I did leave ZTE less than a year after that all went down, and I thought my career had ended. Even my criminal lawyer told the FBI, “You’ve ruined his life. You have ruined his life. He came to you. He provided you all this information, and somehow it got leaked. Now who’s going to want to hire him? What company wants to hire the guy that’s going to whistle blow on them?” That was my concern. It came to fruition because for the next two-and-a-half years, I couldn’t get a job.

Mr. Jekielek:

If I was a large business owner, I might want to have someone on my staff as a general counsel who made the decisions that you made. So, I’m kind of surprised that it was hard for you to find work.

Mr. Yablon:

That’s what everyone says to me now. But at the time, I couldn’t get a job. For a little over two-and-a-half years, no one would return my calls. Here I am, a highly skilled attorney with unbelievable experience working as a general counsel, and I couldn’t even get even entry level positions with companies.

I just figured, at least at the time I thought, “Well, they just didn’t want me. ‘We don’t want that guy.'” Maybe I had a scarlet letter on me that said, “We don’t want him, the whistleblower, to come into our company.” Thank goodness at the time I was able to work for my wife and assist her in her practice because if not, I would have been out of work. It was like that for about two-and-a-half years.

Mr. Jekielek:

But then it changed.

Mr. Yablon:

I had an opportunity with someone that I knew and someone who had worked with me at ZTE actually, and had now moved on and was working elsewhere. Again, he wasn’t an attorney, but was more in an HR position, and he suggested that I could be their general counsel. And it was a U.S.-based company. I did that for 2015 through about 2018.

Mr. Jekielek:

It’s great to hear that you were able to recover from all of this to some extent. Are you worried that something could still happen, or has this passed now?

Mr. Yablon:

I’ll never feel safe. I’ll say that. Things won’t add up. I’ll be somewhere and things just don’t look right, and things don’t make sense. Then, I realize it’s more than just happenstance, there’s probably some validity to it. Obviously, I’ve been told by our government as well as every attorney who’s ever represented me that I can never travel to China again, that I won’t ever go back. And I believe that. So, do I feel safe? No, I don’t think I’ll ever feel safe.

Mr. Jekielek:

One of the things I really like about your book is that it’s very introspective. What would you say is the biggest lesson that you learned through all of this?

Mr. Yablon:

Wow. When I sat down to write the book, I didn’t have an agenda as to a lesson that I wanted someone to learn. But looking back, and once I completed it, two lessons really stand out in my mind. Number one, the idea of ambition or in my case, blind ambition. Obviously, ambition is great, and it is what fuels all of us, but left unchecked it can be disastrous. So, I think theme one is, be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

And the second theme is, how far will you go to do the right thing? And in my situation, I went as far as you could go to do the right thing. I risked not only my job, but I risked my career, and I risked all my finances. But most importantly, I risked my own life. A lot of people might not ever get in a situation like that or be put to that type of test, but I can say I was put to that test, and I feel that I passed.

Mr. Jekielek:

In China, the truth is what the Chinese Communist Party says it is.

Mr. Yablon:

Correct.

Mr. Jekielek:

Even as a means of self-preservation, lying is an important skill that people learn. But how did this manifest in your experiences? Can you comment on this?

Mr. Yablon:

You’ve hit the nail on the head. They just look straight at you and lie. That just perplexes us here in the West as a way to interact or as a way to do business. The day I went back to the office after the article had come out, I went to the office. Like I mentioned, four FBI plainclothes officers were downstairs. I went in and my door to my office was covered in police crime scene tape. I had a large whiteboard, a six-by-six whiteboard in my office. It had been erased, and all that it said in all caps with three exclamation points was, “Die!!!” I was immediately called into the CEO’s office and he said, “Why are you making up these lies? Why are you lying, Ashley?”

I realized that they were going to follow the agenda, and the agenda was to make me the liar and to save the company and to promote the good of the company. And again, it was to gaslight me, to make me to be the person who was making a story up in order to protect the company. In the West we think of everything as very linear. It’s A plus B, and then we get to C. When you talk about business, our business dealings are getting right to the bottom line and talking immediately about the price and shipment and getting right to business. They don’t look at it that way. What we would consider meandering or just wasting time is how they do business.

It’s about formality. It’s about getting to know the person. If you come at them directly with business and get right to a bottom line, it turns them off. I talk about this quite a bit in the book as well, and it’s to your point about lying to you. It’s about saving face, and it’s all about looking at you and agreeing and saying what you want to hear.

But then again, they always have their goal and their agenda, which is all about their protection of not only the company, but also of the country, and to your point, the communist party and towing the party line. What we consider getting down to the business is not something that’s done until further down the road. Really, at the 11th hour, that’s when business gets done.

Mr. Jekielek:

My question is, did you find your own ethics, or your own ethical structure being impacted by being in this type of culture?

Mr. Yablon:

Yes. It weighed on me heavily when someone would look you straight in the eye and tell you something, and you knew that that was a lie or that wasn’t going to happen. As in the instance of, “We’re going to comply. We’re going to provide all the documents to the government.” And it’s hard, like I mentioned, to stick to your guns, to stick to the truth when you’re surrounded by a culture that’s just so diametrically opposed to your beliefs and the way that you operate.

Mr. Jekielek:

Is there anything that you would’ve done differently, looking back?

Mr. Yablon:

I’m asked that quite a bit and the short answer is no. I paid quite a price, but I don’t see any other way around it. To do anything else would be treason and lying to our government. And I couldn’t do that. And from an attorney perspective, I had an ethical duty to report the furthering of a crime.

Mr. Jekielek:

Just prior to the beginning of the Russia/Ukraine war, the Chinese regime in Russia announced this no-limits partnership. What do you expect these large Chinese companies are doing now with respect to these embargoes and sanctions?

Mr. Yablon:

Like I mentioned, they’re like water. It’s their culture not to stop. They just can’t. So, I think that they will continue on. Sanctions are pointless. They haven’t worked, and sanctioning them hasn’t been effective. They will continue on and find different ways. So, if they stop this way of doing a scheme, they’ll find another.

Sanctions aren’t the answer to stopping them. What that answer is, I don’t know. I know that we’ve come up with trying to rely less upon trade. Take, for instance, the Biden administration with the recent chip laws and orders and things like that, trying to reduce our dependence upon foreign companies for technology and things like that, which I is a good start because sanctions have proven to be ineffective.

Mr. Jekielek:

Decoupling is something that’s often mentioned.

Mr. Yablon:

Right.

Mr. Jekielek:

Right. So, based on your experiences, you would advocate for more of this direction of decoupling from the CCP?

Mr. Yablon:

Yes, for sure. The U.S. is so dependent upon trade with China, anything that we can do to reduce that dependency would be in our best interest. The whole world is dependent upon trade with China, and I think China realizes that. And so they’re in a strong position.

Mr. Jekielek:

What are you doing these days?

Mr. Yablon:

Again, after I left ZTE, it took a while to become a general counsel or to get even a job. But I did that for a company for about three years. In 2018 I decided to take time off, write my book, but I still worked for companies and assisted them, and that’s what I do now. I’m brought into companies’ legal departments, and I provide guidance on how to make their systems more smoothly, as well as to assist them with compliance and to make them more compliant with the laws.

Mr. Jekielek:

Are these companies that are interacting with the Chinese regime, or is this just in general?

Mr. Yablon:

It’s just in general, being in compliance with U.S. laws or foreign laws, it’s not just specific to China.

Mr. Jekielek:

Ashley Yablon, it’s such a pleasure to have you on the show.

Mr. Yablon:

Thank you so much.

Mr. Jekielek:

Thank you all for joining Ashley Yablon and me on this episode of American Thought Leaders. I’m your host, Jan Jekielek.

Subscribe to the American Thought Leaders newsletter so you never miss an episode.

* Click the “Save” button below the video to access it later on “My List.”

BUY Jan 6 DVD: https://www.epochtv.shop/product-page/dvd-the-real-story-of-january-6, Promo Code “Jan” for 20% off.

Follow EpochTV on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EpochTVus
Rumble: https://rumble.com/c/EpochTV
Truth Social: https://truthsocial.com/@EpochTV

Gettr: https://gettr.com/user/epochtv
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EpochTVus
Gab: https://gab.com/EpochTV
Telegram: https://t.me/EpochTV

Read More
Popular
Related Videos