Huawei Revs Up Its U.S. Lawsuit, With the Media in Mind

SHANGHAI — Huawei is ramping up its legal challenge to American limits on purchases of its equipment, in a sign that it is doubling down on its strategy of fighting the Trump administration through the courts and public opinion rather than through quiet negotiations.

The Chinese telecommunications giant filed a motion on Tuesday in the United States to accelerate its lawsuit against the White House, which it filed in March in a federal court in Texas. The request for summary judgment could expedite an outcome without the costs and time of a full trial, including avoiding handing over sensitive corporate information during the discovery process. It also could give the company a chance to present its arguments publicly in front of a judge in just a few months rather than wait for a trial to unfold.

To announce its filing, Huawei’s legal team turned to the American news media twice. Huawei’s chief legal officer, Song Liuping, laid out the company’s argument for the motion in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that appeared on Monday. Then on Wednesday in China, the company hosted a news conference at its headquarters in the city of Shenzhen.

“The U.S. government has provided no evidence to show that Huawei is a security threat,” Mr. Song said. “There is no gun, no smoke. Only speculation.”

Mr. Song added that banning Huawei products from the United States would not make the country’s networks more secure, and in fact could distract from larger and more pressing security threats.

The clash with the United States is part of a broader challenge by President Trump against China over trade and Beijing’s industrial and technological ambitions. China has pushed for negotiations and a settlement, but it has also defended its efforts to upgrade its economy and warned that it will not give in to pressure.

Huawei’s lawsuit challenges part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. One part of the legislation bars government agencies from contracting with Huawei or companies that use the company’s equipment. The lawsuit argues that the ban is unconstitutional because it singles out Huawei as a danger without giving it any chance to appeal.

Legal scholars said the Huawei push could help the company avoid discovery, which would allow the United States government to demand evidence from Huawei about its technology and business practices.

As a part of the lawsuit Huawei filed in March, the United States government would be given the chance to demand evidence from Huawei about its technology and business practices. The motion for summary judgment announced Tuesday could bring the suit to a conclusion before the discovery process would happen.

“Avoiding discovery is really important for Huawei. It is both time consuming and invasive,” said Julian Ku, a professor of law at Hofstra University. He added that the problem with Huawei’s move is that the United States government can easily make the case that it needs discovery in order to get more facts and make its case.

In the news conference on Wednesday, Huawei also argued that growing limits on American purchases of Huawei equipment hurt American consumers. In a separate move, Mr. Trump this month issued an executive order barring American telecommunications firms from installing foreign-made equipment that could pose a threat to national security. The order did not mention China or Huawei but still works as an effective ban on its products.

Mr. Song said the actions against Huawei took away the freedom of choice for American carriers and consumers, and it would disproportionately damage rural areas. While major American carriers do not use Huawei equipment, the low prices of Huawei technology have made it critical for smaller carriers seeking to connect more remote parts of America.

As the United States government took to the road to lobby allies across the world about the dangers of using Huawei products, Huawei has repeatedly turned to the American court system and press. In carefully managed and regularly scheduled interviews, Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, has argued that Huawei would refuse any efforts by Beijing to snoop on American communications or shut networks down and that its products are not a threat to United States national security.

Thus far, Huawei has little to show for its more aggressive use of the courts and the news media.

This month, the Trump administration blocked American companies from selling components and software to Huawei. The move cuts Huawei off from the critical American portion of the global electronics supply chain, which accounts for necessities like computer chips and software, and has the potential to inflict major damage on its business.

In an interview with Chinese reporters last week, Mr. Ren said the company had been stockpiling American components as a precaution against just such an eventuality. Still, in the longer term, industry analysts argue that it would be difficult for Huawei to maintain its current businesses while cut off from American technology.

Mr. Song said the American actions marked a troubling new pattern, demonstrating the United States government’s power and willingness to punish other countries and companies.

“This sets a dangerous precedent,” he said. “Today it’s telecoms and Huawei. Tomorrow it could be your industry, your company, your consumers.”

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