China’s foreign minister has spoken in support of Huawei’s lawsuit against the US, praising the company for refusing to suffer US attacks like “silent lambs”, as the telecoms company seeks to establish its independence from Beijing to its foreign customers.
Foreign minister Wang Yi’s statements came a day after Huawei announced it had filed a lawsuit against the US government alleging the ban on government purchases of Huawei equipment was unconstitutional.
“We support the company and individual in question in seeking legal redress to protect their own rights and interests, and refusing to be silent lambs,” Mr Wang said at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s legislature.
Earlier this week, Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, filed a lawsuit against Canadian border agents accusing them of unlawfully interrogating her prior to her arrest in Vancouver.
Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr Wang’s remarks. The company has made the case to foreign governments and customers that it is independent of the Chinese government, in response to US accusations that its 5G mobile telecoms equipment can be used to spy for Beijing.
“Huawei is a poster child for China, so the government attaches great importance to it. This also involves consular responsibilities . . . the government can’t maintain distance just to give the appearance of separation,” said Cheng Xiaohe, associate professor of international relations at Renmin University.
“Huawei can’t separate itself from China’s macro-environment, but what it can do is increase transparency,” Mr Cheng added.
The company has been careful not to comment on Beijing’s recent actions, which include detaining two Canadian citizens on suspicion of endangering national security shortly after the arrest of Ms Meng in Vancouver.
“You have to ask the Chinese government,” said Song Liuping, Huawei’s chief legal officer, in response to a journalist asking whether China’s handling of the arrests helped or hurt Huawei. “Meng’s case and China’s cases are different, independent cases. We hope the Canadian courts can give Meng a fair trial.”
Huawei’s recent charm offensive has also suffered from awkward displays of patriotism at home. Last week a video clip titled Huawei Beauty that the state-owned nationalist tabloid Global Times posted to Twitter went viral for the wrong reasons — for appearing tone-deaf to foreign viewers.
“China's homegrown chips are the most valuable,” sang the primary-school-age children in the video, which celebrated Huawei as a “homegrown smartphone brand”.
Huawei later distanced itself from the video, posting on the domestic microblogging platform Weibo that it was not involved in the making of the video and had not been aware of it.
Additional reporting by Nian Liu in Beijing
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