Perhaps feeling as though it has been backed into a corner, Chinese telecom Huawei is preparing to sue the United States government over a defense bill that would further dissuade domestic companies from doing business with the company. The bill is the latest move in an ongoing effort to encourage businesses to distance themselves from Huawei over concerns that it is spying on users for the benefit of China.
At issue here is an amendment to the US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was signed in 2018. The new language further blocks certain US agencies from using equipment by Huawei and also ZTE, another Chinese company that security officials have previously said could be spying for China. Huawei has repeatedly denied the accusations.
US officials have pressured companies in the past not to do business with Huawei, and as a result, the Chinese phone maker has had trouble peddling its products stateside. Many of its products can be purchased online, of course, but Huawei has not been able to partner with any of the major wireless carriers.
More recently, the US Justice Department filed a series of indictments against Huawei and its US affiliate. Huawei stands accused of several crimes, including a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile, and faces more than half a dozen counts of wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
"Today we are announcing that we are bringing criminal charges against telecommunications giant Huawei and its associates for nearly two dozen alleged crimes," acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker said last month. "As I told Chinese officials in August, China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law."
There is also a hearing scheduled for this week in Canada to determine if Huawei's finance chief, Meng Wanzhous, will be extradited to the US to face criminal charges.
As it relates to the defense bill that Huawei is suing over, The New York Times says the company is expected to argue that it is a "bill of attainder," which is a legislative act that singles out a person or group for punishment without at trial.