China vows to ‘firmly defend’ companies after Huawei hit with US charges

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China has called on Washington to “stop the unreasonable crackdown” on Huawei after the United States stepped up pressure on the tech giant by indicting it on charges of stealing technology and violating sanctions on Iran.

Beijing will “firmly defend” its companies, a foreign ministry statement said. It gave no indication whether Beijing might retaliate for the charges against Huawei, China’s first global tech brand and the biggest maker of switching gear for phone and internet companies.

Huawei Technologies Ltd, which has spent a decade battling US accusations it is a front for Chinese spying, denied committing any of the violations cited in Monday’s indictment.

The foreign ministry complained Washington has “mobilised state power” to hurt Chinese companies “in an attempt to strangle fair and just operations”.

“We strongly urge the United States to stop the unreasonable crackdown on Chinese companies including Huawei,” said the statement read on state TV.

It said Beijing will defend the “lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies” but gave no details.

The charges unsealed Monday by the Justice Department accused Huawei of trying to take a piece of a robot and 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 controls.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang (Andy Wong/AP)

Prosecutors allege Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, lied to banks about those dealings. Ms Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested on December 1 in Vancouver, a development that set off a political firestorm between China and Canada.

“We urge the US to immediately withdraw the arrest warrant against Miss Meng Wanzhou and stop making such kinds of extradition requests,” said a foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang.

“We urge Canada to take seriously China’s solemn position, immediately release Ms Meng Wanzhou and protect her legitimate and legal rights.”

Huawei, headquartered in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, has rejected the US accusations.

“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 Ms Meng, and believes the US courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion”, it said.

Chris Price
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