Although several PR and public affairs firms have offices in Hong Kong, few have yet ventured into mainland China. Upstream MD Suzy Awford said clients at Upstream's Washington DC practice prompted the move, seeking advice in their efforts to break into China.
'Beijing might be just the starting point because regional government plays an important role in China,' she added.
The Beijing office will also look to advise Chinese companies wanting to boost their understanding of policy-making and regulation in Western markets.
Li will work with Upstream's teams in London, Brussels and Washington as well as parent legal firm DLA Piper's 14 lawyers across China. They were hired in October after the collapse of international law firm Coudert Brothers.
Li has most recently been editor of business newspaper China Securities Daily.
Last month Awford replaced Steve John, who quit to become UK & Ireland director of government relations for Pepsico (PRWeek,