China to fight ‘for legitimate rights’ of Huawei and others, says foreign minister Wang Yi

Huawei has sued the US government, saying a law limiting its US business was unconstitutional.
Huawei has sued the US government, saying a law limiting its US business was unconstitutional.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP, BLOOMBERG) - China’s foreign minister on Friday (March 8) slammed US accusations against telecom giant Huawei and said Beijing will take “all necessary measures” to defend the “legitimate rights” of the country’s companies and individuals.

Wang Yi’s remarks came as the US has pressed charges against the company and a top executive over violations of Iran sanctions while warning Western allies to shun the firm over security fears.

“It’s quite obvious to any fair and unbiased person that the recent action against a particular company and Chinese individual is not just a pure judicial case but deliberate political suppression,” Mr Wang said at a news conference.

“We have already and will continue to take all necessary steps, and resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and citizens,” he said, without explaining what kind of measures Beijing would take.

Mr Wang’s remarks come as Huawei is mounting a legal and public relations campaign to counter US warnings that the company’s networks and equipment could serve as Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence services.

Huawei announced on Thursday that it had filed a lawsuit in the US state of Texas to seek the reversal of legislation that prevents American federal agencies from buying its equipment and services.

Huawei is fighting back after Canada arrested its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in December at the behest of the US over charges that she violated Iran sanctions.

Mr Wang voiced support for Huawei’s lawsuit, saying the company should not be a “silent lamb to the slaughter”.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s top diplomat in Beijing blasted China’s strategy in responding to concerns about Huawei, and called the company’s lawsuit against the US “kind of bizarre.”  

“This lawsuit is a brand new deal so I don’t know the details on that,” Terry Branstad, the US ambassador to China, told Bloomberg TV in an interview. “But it just seems kind of bizarre.”

Mr Branstad said the lawsuit “sounds like retaliation” similar to China’s jailing of two Canadians shortly after Meng's arrest. He also mentioned a Canadian citizen who received the death penalty after appealing a 15-year drug sentence. China has denied the cases are connected.

“That would never happen in Canada or the United States,” Mr Branstad said. “And I think that’s not, in my mind, I don’t think that’s a very smart strategy.”