Wednesday 10 February 2021 8:51 am

Huawei launches legal challenge against US national security threat label

Huawei has mounted a legal challenge against the decision to designate the telecoms giant a threat to US national security due to its alleged ties to Beijing.

In June the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally labelled Huawei and ZTE as security threats, blocking US firms from purchasing equipment from the companies. In December it blocked a petition from Huawei asking the agency to reconsider its decision.

Read more: Huawei founder hopes Biden administration will have ‘open policy’

But Huawei this week argued in a filing with the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals that the order broke federal law and the constitution, describing it as “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion”.

The FCC has also passed a so-called rip and replace order for telecoms firms that use Huawei or ZTE equipment, while a $1.9bn package has been established to reimburse the costs.

The crackdown on Huawei was one of a number of actions taken against China by Donald Trump’s administration amid concerns about espionage by Beijing. Huawei has always denied any wrongdoing. 

But the Shenzhen-based tech group will be hoping for a reprieve under new US President Joe Biden.

In a briefing with reporters this week, founder Ren Zhengfei said he would welcome a phone call from Biden.

“I hope the new US administration will come up with more open policies that are in the interests of US companies and the US economy as a whole,” he said.

It is not yet clear whether the new administration will relax its approach to Huawei or other firms such as China Telecom.

Read more: Huawei set for year of transition amid ‘technological Cold War’

But in his first call with his Chinese counterpart last week, US secretary of state Antony Blinken signalled Washington would remain hawkish towards Beijing on issues such as the country’s repression of Uighur Muslims and its actions in Hong Kong.

“I made clear the US will defend our national interests, stand up for our democratic values, and hold Beijing accountable for its abuses of the international system,” he wrote in a tweet.