American executives at Huawei had warned the company’s leadership against filing a lawsuit over restrictions from the United States, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing internal company communications.
The Trump administration has banned federal agencies from directly buying telecom, video surveillance equipment or services from Huawei and another Chinese tech company, ZTE, as part of a 2018 defence bill.
Huawei launched legal action to challenge that ban in March 2019. A Texas district judge in February ruled in favour of the US government.
Before the suit was filed, group executives in Washington, DC reportedly wrote in an email to Huawei’s head of public affairs, Catherine Chen, that it would be a “major mistake” that could damage the company’s efforts to engage with US officials.
“To have a lawsuit against the law is likely to chill, or eliminate entirely, any willingness of the US government agencies to engage with Huawei,” they wrote, according to the WSJ.
In a March interview, Huawei founder Ren Zhenfeng said that “there is no disagreement within the company, and we are very much aligned on this issue.”
Huawei, one of China's most successful global companies, has found itself at the centre of a bruising battle for economic and technological dominance between Washington and Beijing.
The US accuses Huawei of stealing trade secrets and spying on behalf of the Chinese government, charges both the company and Beijing deny.
Apart from banning federal agencies using Huawei products, the Trump administration has put in on a trade blacklist, mounted a global push to cut it out of the lucrative 5G market, and orchestrated the arrest of chief financing officer Meng Wanzhou, Ren’s daughter, in Canada. Wanzhou is currently fighting extradition to the United States, where she is wanted on charges of violating US trade sanctions.
Washington has also moved to curb Huawei’s chip-making capability and adopted a rule that prevents US phone carriers in rural areas from tapping into government subsidies for Huawei’s equipment. The Chinese corporation in December launched a suit to challenge that rule, which is currently pending before an appeals court.