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Huawei sues US government over equipment ban

The Chinese company says the lawsuit is a "last resort" after Washington deemed its equipment a security threat.

Huawei  logo is seen on an android mobile phone with United
Huawei has filed a lawsuit against the US government.

Huawei has fired the latest salvo in its battle with the US, confirming that it has brought a lawsuit against the US government over a ban on its telecommunications equipment.

The company made the announcement during a press conference at its headquarters in Shenzhen, China, on Thursday local time. The lawsuit has been brought in the US District Court in the Eastern District of Texas. (Huawei's US headquarters is located in Plano, Texas).

Speaking about the legal action, Huawei Deputy Chairman Guo Ping said the US Congress had failed to present "any evidence" for its ban on Huawei products and equipment and was thus "unconstitutional."

"[The ban] prevents us from serving our US customers, damages our reputation and deprives us of an opportunity to serve customers outside the United States," Guo said. "It violates separation of power principles, breaks US legal traditions and goes against the very nature of the US Constitution."

"Huawei are prepared to take this legal action as a proper and last resort."

On Friday, the Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councilor Wang Yi, added his support for Huawei's case, according to Reuters. Chinese companies should use "legal weapons" when necessary and not be "silent lambs," he said.

The legal challenge comes down to an addition to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which President Donald Trump signed last yearThe bill prohibits the US government and its contractors from buying certain telecommunications and video surveillance equipment from Huawei as well as a handful of other Chinese communications companies, including ZTE. The ban covers components and services deemed "essential" or "critical" to any government system.

In the press conference, Guo defended the company's record on national security, reiterating that Huawei was a world leader in telecommunications, particularly in 5G.

Huawei's global cybersecurity and privacy officer, John Suffolk, also took to the stage to reiterate that in recent years, when malware attacks like Petya and WannaCry have represented a global threat, "none of that was coming from Huawei."

"[The] global supply chain generates many thousands of weaknesses and vulnerabilities," Suffolk said. "In 2017 and 2018 alone, there were 30,000 such published vulnerabilities, from companies who do publish vulnerabilities. Nine out of the top 10 organizations publishing vulnerabilities were American companies."

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Huawei Chief Legal Officer Song Liuping also noted that Huawei hadn't been given the opportunity to defend its "excellent security record" because the ban came into effect without due legal process.

"Huawei has never had the chance to cross examine its accusers … US Congress has simply attacked as lawmaker, prosecutor and juror at the same time, contrary to the American constitution," Song said.

The company is seeking a permanent injunction on the NDAA restrictions and a declaratory judgement that the restrictions are unconstitutional. 

"[We are willing to] work with the US president and his administration to find a solution where Huawei products are available to the American people and the national security of the United States is fully protected," Song said.

Originally published March 6.
Updated March 8: Added information about the Chinese government's support.