A new chapter in the ongoing flap between the US and Huawei is about to get under way, with the Chinese smartphone maker reportedly planning a lawsuit to be filed against the US government later this week in Texas.
That’s where the company’s US office is located, and word of the suit comes via The New York Times, which reports that the lawsuit will focus on a defense spending authorization approved by Congress last year. In it, the federal government barred itself from using products made by Huawei as well as another Chinese hardware maker, ZTE.
Look for Huawei to argue that such a provision is a “bill of attainder,” something the Constitution doesn’t allow Congress to pass. A bill of attainder is any legislation that singles out a person or entity for a punitive measure outside of a trial.
That defense legislation is one example among many that we and others have been reporting about for months, as tension between the US and Huawei keeps ratcheting up. Complicating things is the fact that this matter is also a kind of proxy fight between the US and China, where it’s assumed Huawei has close ties to the government there — the government also being a central target of the Trump administration over trade issues.
Word of Huawei apparently poised to sue the US government comes as the company’s embattled CFO Meng Wanzhou has also actually gone ahead and filed a lawsuit in Canada against the government there, as well as its border agency and national police. Her suit is focused on what she says was a denial of her civil rights when the Canadians arrested her in December at the behest of the US. She’ll be back in court on Wednesday as part of an extradition hearing.
While all this has gone on, Huawei has for weeks executed a kind of PR charm offensive, offering interviews to select journalists, trying to make its case at MWC and taking out full-page ads in major US newspapers. To no avail, it seems.
In the weeks after her arrest, US law enforcement officials in January unveiled a series of criminal charges against Huawei that include allegations of bank fraud and the alleged theft of US company trade secrets.
It should be noted that, according to the NYT, Huawei’s plans related to a lawsuit aren’t necessarily set in stone. The company may decide not to go through with a lawsuit against the US, so it will be interesting to see if this is an attempt to win some degree of leverage or if the company indeed decides to take this ongoing dispute to yet another level.