Business

Huawei asks court to deem U.S. security law unconstitutional

Chinese tech giant Huawei filed a motion in U.S. court Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of a law that limits its sales of telecom equipment, the latest action in an ongoing clash with the U.S. government.

'There is no gun, no smoke, only speculation,' tech company's lawyer says

'Politicians in the U.S. are using the strength of an entire nation to come after a private company,' a lawyer for Huawei says. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese tech giant Huawei filed a motion in U.S. court Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of a law that limits its sales of telecom equipment, the latest action in an ongoing clash with the U.S. government.

Huawei's chief legal officer Song Liuping said at a press briefing that Huawei had filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to rule on whether it is constitutional for the U.S. to implement a military spending provision that bars the government and its contractors from using Huawei equipment.

Huawei is the biggest global maker of network equipment, but it is now fighting to maintain access to major markets for next-generation communications as the U.S. claims the company threatens international cybersecurity.

"This decision threatens to harm our customers in over 170 countries, including more than 3 billion customers who use Huawei products and services around the world," Song said.

In March, Huawei launched its suit against the section of the U.S. national defence law in Plano, Texas, the headquarters of its U.S. operations. The complaint calls the U.S. provision a "bill of attainder," which selectively punishes Huawei and violates due process by presuming Huawei's guilt without a fair trial. The summary judgment motion seeks to accelerate the legal process to give U.S. customers access to Huawei equipment sooner, according to a Wednesday statement from Huawei.

'This is not normal'

Song said the "state-sanctioned campaign" against the company will not improve cybersecurity.

"Politicians in the U.S. are using the strength of an entire nation to come after a private company," he said. "This is not normal."

The U.S. and China are embroiled in a protracted trade dispute and tariff war that began last July following complaints from President Donald Trump that China steals from or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology while unfairly subsidizing Chinese businesses.

The most recent round of negotiations earlier this month ended with no agreement, after Trump more than doubled duties on $200 billion US in Chinese imports. China responded by raising tariffs of 5 per cent to 25 per cent on $60 billion worth of American goods.

Soon afterward, the U.S. Commerce Department placed Huawei on its "Entity List," effectively barring U.S. firms from selling its technology without government approval. Huawei relies heavily on U.S. components, including computer chips, and about one-third of its suppliers are American.

The move has already affected the company's U.S. partnerships. Google said it would continue to support existing Huawei smartphones, but future devices won't carry its flagship apps and services, including maps, Gmail and search — a change that will likely make Huawei phones less appealing.

Song said the U.S. has not provided any evidence to show that Huawei is a security threat.

"There is no gun, no smoke, only speculation," he said, accusing the U.S. of setting a "dangerous precedent."

"Today it's telecoms and Huawei," he said. "Tomorrow it could be your industry, your company, your consumers."

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