Huawei preparing to sue US government: Sources

China and its leading smartphone maker Huawei stepped up pressure on Monday on the US and Canadian governments.

Action is in response to US campaign which has banned the use of Huawei products by federal agencies and telcos

SHANGHAI • Chinese electronics giant Huawei is preparing to sue the United States government for barring federal agencies from using the company's products, sources say.

The lawsuit will be filed in the Eastern District of Texas, which is home to Huawei's US headquarters, according to the sources, who requested anonymity. Huawei plans to announce the suit this week.

The move could be designed to force the US government to make its case against the Chinese telecommunications equipment-maker more publicly.

It is part of a broader push by Huawei to defend itself against a US-led campaign to undermine the Chinese company, which Washington sees as a security threat.

Huawei executives have spoken out strongly against the US actions, and the company has launched new marketing campaigns to mend its image among consumers.

For many years, US officials have said Beijing could use Huawei's equipment to spy on and disrupt communication networks.

Huawei has denied the allegations, but major US wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon have effectively been prevented from using the Chinese tech company's equipment as a result.

Over the past year, Washington has ramped up its pressure on the firm, which is preparing to take a major role in the construction of next-generation wireless networks around the world.

US officials have urged other governments to ban the use of Huawei's products.

 
 
 

This year, the Justice Department filed criminal charges against Huawei and its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou for evading US sanctions on Iran.

A hearing set to begin this week in Canada will determine whether Meng will be extradited to the US to face charges.

Meng's lawyers have sued the Canadian government and police, arguing that the circumstances of her arrest and detention last December violated her rights.

The criminal case against Meng in the US could be further complicated by comments from President Donald Trump as the White House engages in trade negotiations with China.

While criminal cases have traditionally been independent matters, Mr Trump last month indicated that Huawei's fate could be a bargaining chip.

During a meeting with Chinese officials last month, Mr Trump, when asked if he would drop the criminal charges against Huawei as part of a trade deal, said: "We'll be making that decision... We'll be talking to the attorney-general."

A lawsuit by Huawei against the US is also expected to challenge a section of a military spending authorisation law that was approved last year.

The provision blocks executive agencies from using telecom equipment made by Huawei and another Chinese company, ZTE.

According to one source, Huawei is likely to argue that the provision is a "Bill of attainder", or a legislative act that singles out a person or group for punishment without trial. The Constitution forbids Congress from passing such Bills.

Huawei's plans are not final and it could still decide to change course, or not to file a lawsuit at all.

Separately, Huawei's chairman Ken Hu yesterday urged governments, the telecommunication industry and regulators to work together to create a common set of cyber security standards.

"The fact is that both the public and private sectors lack a basic common understanding of this issue," Mr Hu said at a press conference held to coincide with the opening of a cyber-security centre in Brussels.

"As a result, different stakeholders have different expectations and there is no alignment of responsibilities."

NYTIMES, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2019, with the headline 'Huawei preparing to sue US government: Sources'. Print Edition | Subscribe