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Chinese Tech Giant Huawei Sues U.S. Over Government Ban


Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is suing the U.S. over a law that bans government agencies from buying the company's equipment. It claims the legislation violates the U.S. Constitution. Here's NPR's Rob Schmitz.

ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: Huawei announced its lawsuit against the U.S. government Thursday morning via livestream from its headquarters in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. Acting CEO Guo Ping said the U.S. ban on Huawei equipment punishes the company without due process and is therefore unconstitutional under U.S. law.


GUO PING: The U.S. Congress has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products.

SCHMITZ: These restrictions are part of a law known as the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (ph), which bans U.S. government agencies from contracting with Huawei or companies that use Huawei equipment.


GUO: We are left with no choice but to challenge the law in court.

MARK NATKIN: I think the chance that Huawei would win this case is tiny if not almost zero.

SCHMITZ: Mark Natkin is founder and managing director of Marbridge Consulting in Beijing. He says U.S. intelligence agencies have identified Huawei as a clear threat to national security. He says this lawsuit is part of a legal and public relations offensive that Huawei has mounted to push back against accusations that the company is a close ally to China's Communist Party and would use its equipment to help China spy on the U.S.

Huawei, which has become the world's largest telecommunications company by revenue, is poised to dominate the global infrastructure for 5G through its low pricing and innovative technology. But it's been under pressure for months by the U.S. government. In December, Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei's founder and its CFO, was detained in Canada at the behest of the U.S., which is seeking to extradite her for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Then, the U.S. filed two criminal indictments against the company for stealing trade secrets. The U.S. government ban on Huawei equipment was the latest strike, and Natkin says Huawei is fighting this to send a message.

NATKIN: Huawei's trying to use all the available tools it has at its disposal to make the ban more uncomfortable for the U.S. government and, similarly, to discourage other foreign governments from implementing a similar ban.

SCHMITZ: The Huawei lawsuit does have a legal precedent. Two years ago, a Russian cybersecurity firm filed a similar challenge against the U.S. government for banning its products. But it lost when a judge dismissed the suit, pointing out the ban came from a legitimate desire to protect American networks. Natkin believes Huawei's lawsuit will meet the same fate.

Rob Schmitz, NPR News, Shanghai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.