Huawei steps up legal battle

By Chen Qingqing in Shenzhen and Xie Jun in Shanghai Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/5 23:13:40

Huawei still insists on ‘open attitude, embrace globalization’

Song Liuping, chief legal officer of Huawei, speaks at a press conference at the company's headquarters in Shenzhen, China, on Thursday. Huawei has filed a lawsuit challenging a recent US Federal Communications Commission. Photo: VCG

Amid legal disputes and an escalated crackdown by Washington, Huawei has not stopped moving forward to defend its rights, a rational and legitimate way to win the battle against the US as well as the hearts of the public. 

Huawei announced it is suing the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday, asking to overturn the latest restrictions limiting the Chinese firm's market access to rural America. It was Huawei's second legal challenge against the US in a year, though the company has been used by Washington as a leverage amid the US-China trade war. 

In its latest legal move, Huawei filed a petition with the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, seeking to reverse an FCC order passed on November 2 which bans carriers from purchasing Huawei equipment through a federal subsidy plan, citing national security concerns, the Chinese company announced at a press conference in Shenzhen, South China's Guangzhou Province on Thursday. 

Huawei has become the world's largest telecoms equipment vendor, holding over 25 percent of market share. It has also been a leading force in 5G network roll-outs, as it was ranked first in technology contributions to 5G standards.

The FCC's latest decision labeling Huawei a national security threat, forbidding small, mostly rural carriers, from purchasing its equipment through Universal Service Fund subsidies, has come as part of broader efforts by current US administration to suppress Huawei. 

Banning Huawei from building 5G networks would delay the roll-out of the next generation of wireless technologies in the US by six to 18 months, which would lead to $240 billion in the country's GDP losses, analysts said. 

Growing controversies 

Some analysts see Huawei's lawsuit as finally "showing its claws" after the Chinese telecoms giant has been repeatedly placed under scrutiny and sanctions by the US government, at a time when China-US relations are imperiled by a protracted trade war.

Meanwhile, Washington has been escalating its crackdown against Huawei. For example, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been urging European countries to reject Huawei and ZTE on excuse of security risks, while the some in the Trump administration has even considered the "nuclear" option to ban the firm from the US banking system, media reported. 

The logo of China's tech giant Huawei. Photo: Xinhua

Furthermore, some Western media claimed that the Chinese firm, as a rallying point for patriotism amid the trade war, began losing the sympathy of the Chinese public as it has been facing a backlash in the country over the 251-day detention of one of its former employees. 

Still, the lack of detailed evidence in the case of Li Hongyuan, the company's former employee jailed allegedly for extortion, made it bewildering, but it did not subdue public's support for Huawei in suing the US federal institution. "Huawei sues FCC" is among the top 10 most searched topic on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo on Thursday, viewed 140 million times. 

"Some people support Li's lawsuit against Huawei, now Huawei has set an example," a Weibo user said. As Li harshly criticized Huawei's alleged wrongdoings, the Chinese company replied that it supports Li's handling of the dispute through legal measures, which was considered by some as a cold PR response. 

"It's too early to draw any conclusion, as more details about the case are expected to be disclosed," Fang Xingdong, founder of Beijing-based technology think tank ChinaLabs, told the Global Times. "The image of Huawei in Chinese people's hearts has not changed," he said. 

Taking the initiative 

Huawei challenged the constitutionality of the US government's decision in March, as the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) not only restricts the Chinese firm from serving US customers, but also deprives it of opportunities to serve customers outside the US. The company once said it is compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort. 

Nine months later, the firm challenged a US court's decision, which would also test the spirit of the rule of law in the US, analysts said. 

"This is a legal attack and defense strategy. If Huawei only endures attacks but never fights back, it will lose its initiative. Even if Huawei loses its case, it will put pressure on the US," Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Under the rule of law in the US, the end does not justify such unlawful means of the FCC, Glen Nager, Huawei's lead counsel for the legal action, told reporters. "We are confident that the Fifth Circuit Court will vacate the commission's order."

In terms of so-called national security risks, the Chinese foreign ministry also raised questions about the standards and who defines them. "China can suspect that the US may issue an order to shut off a Boeing engine at will if we follow US logic," Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the ministry, told a routine conference on Thursday, in response to US side's statements on the participation of Huawei and ZTE in 5G. 

The FCC said it declined to comment on the case when it was contacted by the Global Times on Thursday. 

While facing growing pressure from the US, Huawei senior executives are still committed to openness and collaboration, although uncertainties remain whether the Trump administration would impose tougher restrictions. 

"We insist on an open attitude to embrace globalization. If the law allows it, we'll keep collaborating with US partners," Song Liuping, Huawei's chief legal officer, told the Global Times. 


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