Chinese tech giant Huawei has decided to fight a Federal Communications Commission decision last week that further curtails its business with some of its few remaining customers in the U.S., as it continues to advocate for itself in an escalating battle with Washington, according to people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The company is preparing a lawsuit that would challenge the decision – part of a broad recent effort by Huawei of more forcefully challenging U.S. efforts to restrict its business. In March, Huawei sued the U.S. government in a Texas federal court to block the enforcement of provisions of a 2019 defense policy law that prevents the U.S. government and contractors from using Huawei telecom equipment.
The company has also drastically increased its spending on Washington lobbyists and has engaged in a public-relations makeover. Its founder, Ren Zhengfei, 75 years old, has shed his reclusive image and become a virtual celebrity CEO. The former Chinese army engineer has appeared in Huawei-sponsored fireside chats and sat for numerous interviews.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this month, he said his company “can survive very well without the U.S.” Huawei is the world’s largest maker of telecom gear and the No. 2 vendor of smartphones, behind only Samsung and ahead of Apple, the Journal added.
Huawei is expected to file suit next week in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to challenge the Nov. 22 decision by the FCC barring rural telecom carriers in the U.S. from using federal subsidies to purchase Huawei gear, according to one of the people.
Washington has long branded Huawei a national security threat and has blocked its gear from being sold to major U.S. telecom carriers, citing fears that the equipment could be used to spy on Americans. Huawei has repeatedly denied it would ever spy for any government and has challenged the U.S. to provide evidence, which Washington hasn’t done. Its telecom customers in the U.S. are primarily small rural carriers, many of whom praise the company’s products and service and have sought to continue using its equipment.
Huawei has more recently become a bargaining chip in the U.S.-China trade war, with Beijing making relief for the tech giant a precondition for a broader trade deal with Washington. In May, the Commerce Department added Huawei to a trade blacklist preventing companies from selling its U.S.-sourced technology without a license. The Commerce Department earlier this month began granting the first batch of licenses to some Huawei suppliers.