Sat, Mar 09, 2019 - Page 1 News List

China backs ‘silent lamb’ Huawei in US legal battle

AFP, BEIJING

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi arrives for a news conference in Beijing yesterday.

Photo: AFP

China yesterday threw its weight behind Huawei Technologies Co’s (華為) legal battle against the US, saying that the telecom giant would not be a “silent lamb to the slaughter” and vowing to defend the rights of Chinese companies.

Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) voiced Beijing’s support as Huawei mounts a legal and public relations campaign to counter US warnings that the company’s networks and equipment could serve as Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence services.

US prosecutors have also charged the company and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟), over allegations of violating Iran sanctions.

“It’s quite obvious to any fair and unbiased person that the recent action against a particular company and Chinese individual is not just a pure judicial case, but deliberate political suppression,” Wang told a news conference on the sidelines of the Chinese National People’s Congress.

“We have already and will continue to take all necessary steps, and resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and citizens,” Wang said, without explaining what kind of measures Beijing would take.

China supports the company’s use of the “weapon of law to safeguard” its rights and not become a “silent lamb to the slaughter,” Wang said.

US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said that the move “sounds like retaliation” and a “little bit like” China’s detention of two Canadians following Meng’s arrest in December last year.

“In my mind, I don’t think that’s a very smart strategy,” Branstad told Bloomberg TV. “This lawsuit is a brand new deal so I don’t know the details on that, but it just seems kind of bizarre.”

Huawei chief legal officer Song Liuping (宋柳平) said that Chinese laws might require the company to heed government requests for assistance, but would only do so in matters such as terrorism or criminal activity.

While it has taken its case to court in the US, Huawei said it has no immediate plans to mount a legal challenge in Australia, where its equipment has been barred from the nation’s 5G network.

“Whilst we have our differences with the [Australian] federal government, we would still rather work cooperatively,” a company spokesman said. “A legal challenge is not a priority at this moment.”

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