At this point, it’s starting to seem unusual if there’s not a new development in the ongoing saga of Huawei from one day to the next. The latest drama in the smartphone maker’s long-running beef with the US is the lawsuit that the China-based brand filed against the US on Thursday, arguing that the government’s ban of Huawei handsets and other technology is unconstitutional.
And now China, which Huawei has long tried to distance itself from even as US officials argue the company is too cozy with the repressive government there, has chimed in, like some kind of eyebrow-raising hype man for Huawei. The top diplomat in the country applauded the company for filing suit instead of letting itself by “victimized like silent lambs.”
That diplomat, Wang Yi, made his remarks during China’s annual National People’s Congress, according to news accounts of his comments translated into English. They came a day after Huawei filed its action against the US, arguing that the legislation formalizing a banning of Huawei’s products amounted to a “bill of attainder,” which singles out a person or entity in a way congressional legislation is not allowed to do.
“China has and will continue to take all necessary measures to resolutely protect the legitimate and lawful interests of Chinese businesses and citizens,” Wang said. He continued:
“People can tell right and wrong. Justice will have its day. What we’re standing up for is not just the interests of a company, but also a country or nation’s legitimate right to innovate and by extension the basic right of all countries who wish to climb up the technology ladder.”
To be sure, this is a story that’s much bigger than one smartphone manufacturer. There are several crosscurrents to the Huawei story that involve everything from President Trump’s hostility to China to the ongoing trade flap between the US and China. It’s got elements of corporate espionage, and Huawei fighting hard to achieve its desire of being the biggest smartphone maker in the world. The CFO-daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder was arrested in China in December at the behest of the US, which wants to extradite her here, which seemed to spur Huawei’s founder to grant a few rare media interviews. The company has also been pursuing something of a charm offensive, quietly inviting US reporters to tour its facilities for an all-expenses-paid junket, taking out newspaper ads and more.
The US government unveiled a series of criminal charges against Huawei in recent weeks at a present conference led by then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who’s no longer with the Justice Dept. Meanwhile, both US and Huawei officials sniped at each other during MWC, with Huawei trying to press forward and showcase some its latest smartphone innovations. All of which is to say, this is starting to definitely feel like fodder for a novel, if not a movie. And the story isn’t even over yet.