China yesterday accused the United States of “political motivations” behind sweeping charges against Chinese telecom giant Huawei in a case that has ratcheted up tensions between the two superpowers.
The Justice Department Monday unveiled 13 charges against Huawei Technologies, its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the company’s founder and two affiliates related to violating US sanctions on Iran.
The firm was also accused of technology theft on the same day China’s top trade negotiator arrived in Washington for high-stakes talks with US officials, possibly complicating the discussions ahead of a March deadline to avert a deepening of their trade war.
Canada has been dragged into the dispute since it arrested Meng at the behest of the United States last month, sparking a diplomatic crisis between Ottawa and Beijing, which renewed calls for her release and for the US to drop its warrant against her.
China’s foreign ministry said there were “strong political motivations and political manipulations” behind the charges. “For some time, the US has used state power to smear and suppress specific Chinese companies in an attempt to stifle their legitimate business activities,” ministry spokesman Geng Shaung said at a regular briefing.
“We strongly urge the US to stop the unreasonable suppression of Chinese companies including Huawei and to treat them fairly and objectively. China will also resolutely defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.”
The twin indictments are the latest setback for the company, with its equipment having been barred from domestic networks in the United States, Australia and New Zealand amid security fears. In addition to fraud charges linked to Iran sanctions violations against Meng and the company, two Huawei affiliates were charged with stealing robot technology from T-Mobile.
“Both sets of charges expose Huawei’s brazen and persistent actions to exploit American companies and financial institutions, and to threaten the free and fair global marketplace,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.