China tells US to stop 'unreasonable bashing' of Huawei, says political intentions behind Washington's move

Following US' move to announce charges against Huawei and its Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, Beijing asked Washington on Tuesday to "stop the unreasonable bashing" of the Chinese tech giant.

The US justice department on Monday charged that Huawei violated US sanctions against sales to Iran and stole trade secrets from T-Mobile, a US partner. The US is also seeking to extradite Meng, who has been held in Canada since 1 December.

Responding to the development, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, "China is highly concerned about the US department of justice's charges against Huawei and its vice-chairman and CFO Meng. The Chinese government has all along urged Chinese companies to conduct international economic cooperation on the basis of complying with relevant laws and regulations. At the same time, China asks that all countries provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for the normal operations of Chinese companies."

China tells US to stop unreasonable bashing of Huawei, says political intentions behind Washingtons move

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang during a daily briefing in Beijing on Tuesday. AP

In the statement, Shuang alleged that the US has been using "national power to tarnish and crackdown on specific Chinese companies in an attempt to strangle their lawful and legitimate operations."

"Behind such practices are deep political intentions and manipulations. We strongly urge the US to stop its unreasonable bashing of Chinese companies including Huawei, and treat them objectively and fairly. China will also continue to uphold the lawful and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies," he said.

Shuang further accused the US and Canada of abusing their bilateral extradition agreement by taking measures against a Chinese citizen "for no reason". "Such actions seriously violate the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese citizen. Once again we urge the US to immediately withdraw its arrest warrant for Meng Meng, refrain from making a formal extradition request, and stop going further down the wrong path. We also urge Canada to take China's solemn position seriously, immediately release Meng and ensure her lawful and legitimate rights and interests, and stop risking its own interests for the benefits of the US," he said.

Huawei is China's top global tech brand and the biggest maker of network switching gear used by phone and internet companies. The charges unsealed on Monday accused Huawei of trying to take a piece of a robot and steal other technology from a T-Mobile lab that was used to test smartphones.

Huawei also is charged with using a Hong Kong front company, Skycom, to trade with Iran in violation of US trade controls. Prosecutors allege Meng lied to banks about those dealings. Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver on US charges related to Iran, a development that set off a political firestorm between China and Canada.

Huawei rejects US charges

Huawei Technologies Ltd denied committing any of the violations cited in Monday's indictment, the most serious escalation yet of pressure on Huawei, which has spent a decade battling US accusations it is a front for Chinese spying and a security risk.

"The company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of US law set forth in each of the indictments," a Huawei statement said. Huawei is "not aware of any wrongdoing by Meng, and believes the US courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion," it said.

Huawei said US prosecutors rejected a request to discuss the investigation following Meng's arrest. It also noted the allegations in the trade secrets charge were the subject of a US civil lawsuit that already has been settled. Meng is out on bail in Vancouver and is due in court Tuesday as she awaits extradition proceedings. Her case has set off diplomatic spats between the United States, China and Canada.

The US justice department officials provided details from a 10-count grand jury indictment in Seattle, and a separate 13-count case from prosecutors in New York. The Seattle charges allege that beginning in 2012, Huawei plotted to steal information about T-Mobile's robot, known as "Tappy." It says Huawei engineers secretly took photos of the robot, measured it and tried to steal part of it from T-Mobile's lab, according to prosecutors.

The latest charges could dim prospects for US-Chinese trade talks due to start Wednesday in Washington. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed on 1 December to put off any further sanctions against exports while they negotiated. A breakdown in negotiations would likely lead to higher tariffs, a prospect that has rattled financial markets for months.

With inputs from AP

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Updated Date: Jan 29, 2019 14:57:05 IST

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