President Donald Trump will hit back hard as Huawei files a lawsuit against the United States government.
Huawei, the largest smartphone maker in China, says Trump acted as “judge, jury and executioner” with his ban on Huawei products. The Chinese telecoms giant says the US violated its own constitution. The lawsuit, filed in Texas, is the most aggressive action yet in the ongoing dispute between Trump and Huawei.
The news will anger the president as he inches closer to a trade deal with China. He will strike back with the full force of his administration and use the dispute as leverage in his talks with China.
The lawsuit is a response to Donald Trump’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The law bans all federal government agencies from using Huawei devices.
Trump claims the law is a national security issue. According to the White House, Huawei devices can be exploited by the Chinese government to spy on US citizens.
As Vice President Mike Pence explained:
“Chinese law requires [Huawei] to provide Beijing’s vast security apparatus with access to any data that touches their networks or equipment.”
In other words, Huawei devices can be used for espionage. It’s a claim Huawei denies. It even took out a full page advert in the Wall Street Journal to clear its name.
Huawei’s Deputy Chairman Guo Ping accused Trump of acting as acting as “judge, jury and executioner.”
The lawsuit itself centers around the fifth amendment of the US constitution. Huawei claims the US has denied its “due process of law.”
Expanding his comments, Guo said:
“The US Congress has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products.”
Congress maintains that Huawei and other Chinese tech companies pose a serious national security threat. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said:
“They’re Trojan Horses for the Chinese Communist Party, and the free world should stand together in blocking them from our critical infrastructure.”
The lawsuit couldn’t come at a worse time for the Trump administration. The president is in the final stretches of negotiating a trade deal with China. And this news will heighten tensions between the two nations.
Trump is likely to use a display of strength to double down on his position against China.
He may even use the lawsuit as leverage in the negotiation itself. He has previously hinted at lenience towards Huawei in exchange for beneficial trade terms. When Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada, Trump said he would intervene:
“If I think it’s good for the country, if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made — which is a very important thing — what’s good for national security — I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”
He may also be willing to offer further concessions to Huawei in exchange for favorable trade terms with China.
Ultimately, Trump says the ban is a last resort:
“I want competition with China, fair competition. I don’t want to block out anybody if we can help it.”
He has even offered a softer stance on Chinese phone company ZTE, a company previously banned from selling products stateside, suggesting he is willing to reach an agreement.
Trump is open to dialogue with Chinese companies, but this aggressive lawsuit from Huawei is a step in the wrong direction. Expect Donald Trump to hit back hard.