A man walks past a Huawei retail shop in Shenzhen, China's Guangdong province. Image Credit: AP

Hong Kong, Washington

Huawei Technologies has sued the US government saying a law limiting its US business was unconstitutional, ratcheting up its fight back against a government bent on closing it out of global markets.

The lawsuit marks the latest confrontation between China and the US, which spent most of 2018 slapping import tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other’s goods. The year ended with the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer (CFO) in Canada at US request, to the consternation of China.

Long before Trump initiated the trade war, Huawei’s activities were under scrutiny by US authorities.

“The US Congress has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products. We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort,” Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping said in a statement.

“This ban not only is unlawful, but also restricts Huawei from engaging in fair competition, ultimately harming US consumers. We look forward to the court’s verdict.”

While Huawei had very little share of the US market before the bill, it is the world’s biggest telecoms gear maker and is seeking to be at the forefront of a global roll-out of fifth generation (5G) mobile networks and services.

In its lawsuit, Huawei said its “equipment and services are subject to advanced security procedures, and no backdoors, implants, or other intentional security vulnerabilities have been documented in any of the more than 170 countries in the world where Huawei equipment and services are used.”

The privately owned firm has embarked on a public relations and legal offensive as Washington lobbies allies to abandon Huawei when building 5G networks, centring on a 2017 Chinese law requiring companies cooperate with national intelligence work.

“The US Government is sparing no effort to smear the company and mislead the public,” said Guo in a news briefing at Huawei’s headquarters.

* The US government is barred from doing business with Huawei or compatriot peer ZTE Corp or from doing business with any company that has equipment from the two firms as a “substantial or essential component” of their system.

* The US Department of Homeland Security is conducting a broad review of risks posed by 5G technology, as the US grapples with concerns about the new network’s vulnerability to hacking and the rise of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. The study — a wide-ranging assessment of risks — should be completed within “a couple months,” Chris Krebs, who heads the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within Homeland Security, said, according to a Bloomberg report.