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Huawei sues US govt, says ban on its equipment unconstitutional

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It argues that law is unconstitutional, ultimately harming American consumers

HONG KONG/WASHINGTON: Chinese telecom equipment-maker Huawei Technologies sued the US government yesterday, saying a law limiting its US business was unconstitutional.

Huawei said it had filed a complaint in a federal court in Texas challenging Section 889 of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), which bars federal agencies and their contractors from procuring its equipment and services.

Last year ended with the arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer in Canada at the request of the US.

Long before President Donald Trump initiated the trade war, Huawei's activities were under scrutiny by the US authorities, said sources.

"The US Congress has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products. We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort," Huawei rotating chairman Guo Ping said in a statement.

"This ban not only is unlawful but also restricts Huawei from engaging in fair competition, ultimately harming US consumers."

Huawei is seeking to be at the forefront of a global roll-out of 5Gnetworks and services.

In its lawsuit, Huawei said its "equipment and services are subject to advanced security procedures, and no backdoors, implants, or other intentional security vulnerabilities have been documented in any of the more than 170 countries in the world where Huawei equipment and services are used".

It has embarked on a public relations and legal offensive as Washington lobbies allies to abandon Huawei when building 5G networks, centring on a 2017 Chinese law that requires companies to cooperate with national intelligence work.

"The US government is sparing no effort to smear the company and mislead the public," said Mr Guo.

The NDAA bans the US government from doing business with Huawei or ZTE Corp or any company that has equipment from the two companies as a "substantial or essential component" of their system.

Huawei argues that the section is illegal because it could sharply limit the company's ability to do business in the US despite no proof of wrongdoing.

The lawsuit also alleges that Huawei has been denied due process and that Congress has violated the "separation of powers" portion of the Constitution by doing the work of the courts.

Some legal experts said Huawei's lawsuit is likely to be dismissed because US courts are reluctant to second-guess national security determinations by other branches of government. - REUTERS