Tech

'Justice will have its day': Beijing backs Huawei's lawsuit against US government

Key Points
  • China's government affirms its support for Huawei's lawsuit against the U.S. government.
  • Wang Yi, China's top diplomat, says Beijing supports Huawei's legal move. He characterizes it as the tech giant protecting itself from being "victimized like silent lambs."
  • Huawei filed its lawsuit on Thursday, claiming that a ban on U.S. government agencies buying its telecommunication equipment is unconstitutional.
  • American government officials — along with outside legal and technical experts — say there's a risk that Huawei could use its equipment to further Beijing's intelligence gathering operations.
Joan Cros | NurPhoto | Getty Images

China's government voiced its support for Huawei's legal challenge against the U.S. on Friday, saying the technology firm has the right to refuse to be "victimized like silent lambs."

Huawei filed a lawsuit on Thursday claiming that a ban on U.S. government agencies buying its telecommunication equipment is unconstitutional. Wang Yi, China's top diplomat, said the regime in Beijing backs the company's legal battle.

"China has and will continue to take all necessary measures to resolutely protect the legitimate and lawful interests of Chinese businesses and citizens," Wang said, according to an official translation of a Mandarin comment made during a Friday address.

"At the same time, we support the company and individual in question in seeking legal redress to protect their own interests and refusing to be victimized like silent lambs," he added to the statement made during China's National People's Congress, a big annual event at which Beijing formally announces major policy elements such as economic growth targets.

The "company and individual" in question refer to Huawei and the company's Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Canada in December and is facing extradition to the U.S. The U.S. has accused her of fraud.

Huawei's lawsuit against the U.S. government focuses on a particular section of the National Defense Authorization Act, which prohibits government agencies from procuring Huawei gear. Huawei, along with rival ZTE, is explicitly named in that the law. The company's lawyers want that provision, known as Section 889, scrapped in the hope that it could help restart talks with the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, Meng's lawyers are now suing Canadian authorities, alleging they arrested, detained and searched her in violation of her constitutional rights.

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"People can tell right and wrong, justice will have its day. What we're standing up for is not just the interests of a company, but also a country or nation's legitimate right to innovate and by extension the basic right of all countries who wish to climb up the technology ladder," Wang said.

Wang did not explain how being blocked from selling to the American government would prevent the company from innovating.

The commentary from Wang was the latest in a series of arguments from either Huawei or the Chinese government that the U.S. has engaged in a pre-meditated attack on the company. Beijing has repeatedly suggested it's because the world's largest economy feels its business interests are threatened by the telecom — and Chinese technology more broadly.

The U.S., however, has said that it is worried about the security risks posed by Huawei, alleging that the company's equipment may contain backdoors that could be used by the Chinese government for espionage. Huawei has continuously denied those claims, but intelligence experts who spoke to CNBC have said there's cause for skepticism about the company's assurances it's not a risk.

Experts point to Chinese laws that allegedly mean every domestic company is legally mandated to assist the country in intelligence gathering. China's companies are also thought to be forbidden from talking about any intelligence work.

Huawei has argued that its absence from the U.S. telecom market could slow the rollout of next generation mobile network technology known as 5G and hurt consumers, claims experts have dismissed.

—CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report.