Huawei is suing to be removed from the FCC's 'national threat' list as the Chinese company seeks to re-establish ties with the US

  • Huawei filed a lawsuit to overturn a June FCC ruling that designated it a national security risk.
  • Huawei said the FCC acted outside its powers and the ruling was unconstitutional.
  • With the Trump administration gone, Huawei is on a drive to restore relations with the US.
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Now Trump is gone, Huawei is pushing to shake off the US restrictions his administration slapped it with.

The Chinese smartphone giant filed a lawsuit with the New Orleans fifth circuit court of appeals, as reported by Bloomberg, claiming the Federal Communications Commission unlawfully designated Huawei a national security threat in June.

Huawei argued in the suit the FCC acted outside of its powers and the move was unconstitutional as well as  “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.”

Then-FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in June that Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese smartphone maker, were risks because they had “close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus.” 

“Both companies are broadly subject to Chinese law obligating them to cooperate with the country’s intelligence services,” Pai said. The designation meant US companies were no longer able to dip into the FCC’s Universal Service Fund to buy anything from Huawei or ZTE.

The Trump administration repeatedly claimed Huawei was a proxy for the Chinese government to spy, a claim Huawei denies. In May 2019 Trump signed an executive order placing Huawei on a trading “entity list,” meaning US companies had to obtain special licenses to trade with the company. 

Read more: The inventor of 5G predicts the technology will doom Silicon Valley and catapult China. Here’s the roadmap Amazon, Microsoft, and Google must follow to stay ahead.

Huawei consistently claimed the Trump administration’s sanctions were politically motivated by Trump’s trade war with China, rather than by legitimate security concerns.

With the Biden administration in full swing, Huawei appears to be trying to get back into the US. It hired advertising giant WPP in January to raise its profile in the US, and CEO Ren Zhengfei this week told reporters he would “welcome” a call from President Biden. The company has taken a substantial financial hit as the result of Trump’s sanctions, and in November it sold off its budget smartphone brand Honor.

The Biden administration has not made Huawei a talking point, although Biden’s nominee for Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo indicated she would not be in favour of removing Huawei from the entity list in a response to Senate Republicans last week.

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