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China says US indictment against Huawei is 'unfair' and 'immoral'

Key Points
  • The U.S. Department of Justice filed criminal charges Monday against Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China tech giant Huawei, and it also announced charges against Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile.
  • A spokesman at China's industry and information technology ministry said Tuesday that the U.S. government indictment against Huawei is "unfair" and "immoral."
  • China's foreign ministry, for its part, expressed concerns about the charges and then characterized the actions as part of a U.S. plot to suppress the success of Chinese firms.
Robert Long (L) and Ada Yu hold signs in favor of Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou outside her bail hearing at British Columbia Superior Courts in Vancouver, British Columbia on December 11, 2018.
Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images

A spokesman at China's industry and information technology ministry said Tuesday that the U.S. government indictment against Huawei is "unfair" and "immoral," Reuters reported.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed criminal charges Monday against Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China tech giant Huawei and the daughter of its founder and president Ren Zhengfei. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker confirmed during a press conference that the Justice Department is seeking the extradition of Meng Wanzhou from Canada.

The Justice Department also announced charges Monday against Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile. The charges stem from a civil trade secrets lawsuit filed by T-Mobile in 2014 over a robot called "Tappy," which was used in testing smartphones.

Meng's lawyer, Reid Weingarten, said his client should not be used as a "pawn or a hostage" in the the U.S.-China relationship. She did not plot to break any U.S. laws, or violate American sanctions on Iran, he said in a statement to CNBC.

China's foreign ministry, for its part, expressed its concerns about the charges and then characterized the actions as part of a U.S. plot to suppress the success of Chinese firms.

Alex Capri, visiting senior fellow at NUS Business School, told CNBC he found Beijing's response notable.

"I think the choice of words is very interesting from Beijing because I didn't hear any talk about retaliation, I didn't hear any talk similar to what we heard regarding Canada, where 5G networks might be held up, Huawei's involvement in building these types of networks, you know, as a penalty might withdraw," Capri said, referring to the next generation of mobile networking technology.

"What that does is that underscores the reality here, and that is that Huawei is incredibly vulnerable," he said, explaining that vulnerability stems from the company's "dependence still on Western tech."

That's why, Capri added, "Beijing is treading very carefully here."

Huawei said in a statement provided to CNBC that it was "disappointed to learn of the charges brought against the company today." Here's the rest of that statement:

After Ms. Meng's arrest, the Company sought an opportunity to discuss the Eastern District of New York investigation with the Justice Department, but the request was rejected without explanation. The allegations in the Western District of Washington trade secret indictment were already the subject of a civil suit that was settled by the parties after a Seattle jury found neither damages nor willful and malicious conduct on the trade secret claim. The Company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of U.S. law set forth in each of the indictments, is not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng, and believes the U.S. courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion.

—CNBC's Kate Fazzini, Arjun Kharpal and Eustance Huang, and Reuters contributed to this report.