The Donald Trump administration’s top diplomat in Beijing blasted China’s strategy in responding to concerns about Huawei, and called the company’s lawsuit against the US “kind of bizarre”.
The Chinese telecommunications giant, which is facing multiple criminal indictments in the US, filed a federal lawsuit in Texas this week claiming that a ban on American government purchases of its equipment violates the US constitution and could kill the company.
“This lawsuit is a brand new deal so I don’t know the details on that,” Terry Branstad, the US ambassador to China, told Bloomberg TV in an interview. “But it just seems kind of bizarre.”
Branstad said the lawsuit “sounds like retaliation” similar to China’s jailing of two Canadians shortly after Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Vancouver in December. He also mentioned a Canadian citizen who received the death penalty after appealing a 15-year drug sentence. China has denied the cases are connected.
“That would never happen in Canada or the US,” Branstad said. “And I think that’s not, in my mind, I don’t think that’s a very smart strategy.”
The US is pushing for other countries to avoid using Huawei’s equipment for 5G networks due to espionage fears, allegations that China has strongly denied. The dispute has further dented ties between the US and China even as the two countries get closer to ending an months-long trade war.
In a news conference on Friday, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, called the US actions against Huawei and Meng “a deliberate political move to bring them down”.
“China has and will continue to take all necessary measures to resolutely protect the legitimate and lawful interest of Chinese business and citizens,” he said. “At the same time, we support the company and individual in seeking legal redress to protect their own interactions and refusing to be victimised like silent lambs.” — Reported by David Tweed and Tom Mackenzie, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP