Huawei is gearing up to sue the US government this week for banning its telecom products from federal agencies, according to a report from the New York Times. The Chinese company continues to face allegations from the US government that it poses a security threat, but so far no public information has come to light. This new offensive from Huawei could finally force the US government to expose the sources that these allegations are based on.
Longtime readers will likely be familiar with the ongoing saga. US intelligence agencies have been suspicious of Huawei for years due to the company's cosy relationship with the Chinese Communist Party. It should be noted, of course, that a certain level of government authority is mandatory in all Chinese businesses. Nonetheless, Washington continues to pressure allied nations around the world to exclude Huawei from the development of 5G infrastructure in their counties, leading to a kind of network cold war.
Aside from the allegations of spying for China, there's also the issue of corporate espionage. The US Department of Justice has previously charged Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile and violating US sanctions against Iran, similar to what transpired with ZTE. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was also arrested in Canada on behalf of the US on charges related to the Iran sanctions. Released on bail, she currently faces extradition to the US.
Huawei goes on the offensive
Huawei and its CEO Ren Zhengfei have consistently maintained innocence in the face of the allegations, and Chinese law does not compel the company to share sensitive information with the Chinese government, even if this doesn't necessarily mean that that isn't happening. Nonetheless, with no conclusive proof of espionage brought to bear, the company is not taking the accusations lying down.
According to the NYT's sources, Huawei will come out swinging with a lawsuit that argues that the US defense spending authorization law that blocks federal agencies from using Huawei and ZTE's telecom equipment is a "bill of attainder" that singles out a company for punishment without trial. Such a bill would be contrary to the US constitution.
This conflict between the Chinese telecoms giant and the US government takes place in the larger context of the mounting Sino-US trade war which has sent economic shockwaves through many companies, not only in the tech sector. Now, as world powers consider their investment in 5G equipment to build the new network standard, there's a chance that China could significantly expand its geopolitical influence.
Of course, the US would like to prevent this for political reasons, but does it have an objective, legal leg to stand on? Perhaps we'll see the actual substance of the allegations come to light before too long.
What do you think of the whole affair? Is the US justified in attempting to block Huawei?
Source: New York Times