Huawei files suit over security threat designation

Earlier this week, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei spoke rather diplomatically about the company’s hopes of holding talks with the new U.S. administration. The hardware giant is also taking a less conciliatory route, challenging its FCC designation as a national security threat.

The company this week filed a suit with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, calling the FCC ruling, “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion and not supported by substantial evidence.”

Questions have swirled around the smartphone maker’s ties to the Chinese government for years, but the U.S. greatly ramped up actions against Huawei during the Trump years. The federal government has taken a number of routes to essentially kneecap the company, including, notably, its addition to the Department of Commerce’s “entity list,” which effectively barred it from working with U.S. companies.

Huawei likely sees a change in U.S. governance as an opportunity to be reevaluated by the powers that be. The company has long denied spying and other security charges. “I would welcome such phone calls and the message is around joint development and shared success,” Ren earlier this week told the media that he was eager to speak with Biden. “The U.S. wants to have economic growth and China wants to have economic growth as well.”

In a statement offered to The Wall Street Journal, however, an FCC spokesperson stayed firm to the 2020 decision, stating, “Last year the FCC issued a final designation identifying Huawei as a national security threat based on a substantial body of evidence developed by the FCC and numerous U.S. national security agencies. We will continue to defend that decision.”

Thus far, the Biden administration hasn’t indicated any plans to soften restrictions on Huawei. Facing opposition from Republican lawmakers, Commerce Secretary nominee Gina Raimondo noted, “I currently have no reason to believe that entities on those lists should not be there. If confirmed, I look forward to a briefing on these entities and others of concern.”

The Biden administration does appear to be reviewing other actions against Chinese companies taken during the Trump administration. Notably, a planned forced sale of TikTok’s U.S. wing has been put on hold while the White House reassesses security concerns.

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