Chinese telecom giant Huawei has confirmed it is suing the US government over a section of a defence bill passed into law last year that restricted its business in the United States.
Huawei said it had filed a complaint in a federal court in Texas challenging the constitutionality of Section 889 of the National Defence Authorisation Act.
Signed into law by President Donald Trump in August 2018, it bans US federal agencies and their contractors from using Huawei’s equipment and services.
“The US Congress has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products. We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort,” Huawei rotating chairman Guo Ping said.
“This ban not only is unlawful, but also restricts Huawei from engaging in fair competition, ultimately harming US consumers. We look forward to the court’s verdict, and trust that it will benefit both Huawei and the American people.”
While Huawei had little market share in US telecoms before the bill, it viewed Section 889 as a stumbling block to resolving broader problems with Washington as its existence prevented any steps toward reconciliation.
The Chinese tech giant has embarked on a public relations and legal offensive in recent months as Washington has lobbied allies to abandon it when building fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks. The US’s issues centre on a 2017 Chinese law requiring companies to cooperate with national intelligence work.
In August 2018, Australia blocked Huawei and another Chinese company, ZTE, from having any input into its 5G generation network.
In a speech in London on Wednesday, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia had relied on its own security advice in making the decision.
Mr Turnbull said banning companies who could not meet this country’s security requirements was a necessary step.
“We were the first nation to do so. And we so decided not because another country told us to … but to defend our own sovereignty and to hedge against changing times,” Mr Turnbull said. The ban came on his last day as prime minister.
Huawei founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei has said the company, the world’s biggest telecoms gear maker, has never and will never share data with China’s government.
The legal action and public relations outreach compare with a more restrained response in December emphasising “trust in justice” when its chief financial officer, Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Vancouver at the request of the US.
The US has accused Ms Meng – Mr Ren’s daughter – of bank and wire fraud related to breaches of trade sanctions against Iran.
Huawei’s legal action comes after Ms Meng appeared in court on Wednesday. At that hearing, her lawyer expressed concerns that the allegations against her had a political character, raising Mr Trump’s comments on the case.
Ms Meng, who is fighting extradition to the US, is suing the Canadian government over her arrest.
Mr Ren met international media for the first time in several years in mid-January, calling Mr Trump “great” and refraining from commenting directly on his daughter’s case. Shifting tone, in mid-February, he said Ms Meng’s arrest was politically motivated and “not acceptable”.