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Huawei Sues U.S. as a ‘Last Resort’ Over What It Calls an Unfair Ban (nytimes.com)
67 points by artemiszx 19 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 81 comments

> “The actual and intended effect of these prohibitions is to bar Huawei from significant segments of the U.S. market for telecommunications equipment and services, thereby inflicting immediate and ongoing economic, competitive, and reputational harms on Huawei,” the company’s lawyers wrote in the suit.

This is incredulously ironic coming from a Chinese company. China, who sets up just about every barrier imaginable to foreign companies. Do they also lobby the Chinese government in favor of easing restrictions on those foreign businesses? I'm not saying we should follow their lead or really commenting on the merits at all, but I just find these times to be quite strange & humorous indeed.

You are confusing Chinese companies with Chinese government. In most areas, whatever restrictions/laws on foreign businesses, are also put on Chinese companies (private). Most foreign companies lost Chinese market due to fierce competition from local counterparts, not any imaginable barrier. Back in 2000s, Chinese government even gave green light when Huawei tried to sell [ref] itself to Motorola, but only been turned down by the American side, and in the past few months Huawei ascends from nowhere to the #1 target of US spy agencies. See the irony?

edit ref: https://www.ft.com/content/fa8e7ab4-3905-11e9-b856-5404d3811...

They are the same thing. You don’t do business in China without playing ball with the state.

Don't you think that Huawei couldn't do business in US because it couldn't play the ball with the US government? LOL

Change their entire business model and act as a trojan horse for the US government? No that won't fly in the US (yes I'm aware of NSLs, there's a significant difference in degrees).

In China that's standard procedure. Party says you switch up everything you're doing for their whims you do it.

Off-topic, but are you the same techlead from YouTube?


wait, what? Isn't Huawei a private company?

Huawei is the textbook example of how Chinese government own "private". See, for example, http://csis.org/files/publication/130215_competitiveness_Hua...

It is very common to have a "private" company, a party division and government department share a same registration address / contact person in China.

Nobody knows. The ownership structure of Huawei is extremely obfuscated and it has a dual share class system where the employee shares have no voting rights.


We've already asked you to please stop breaking the guidelines and it's not happening so we've banned the account.


Is the navy the military of political party

China ecosystem isn't anymore competitive than anyone elses. You notice all the founders of these chinese tech companies are also in the CCP

Economic systems aren't built on benevolence. The reason the US has the economic system it does is because they believe it to be the most 'effective' system by various metrics. Incidentally that's the exact same reason that China has the system it does. As a comparable example the reason the founding fathers built freedom of speech deep into the US constitution was not because they liked people saying naughty or unpopular things, but because they felt that systems in which those in power could control what those out of power could say was counter-productive to building and maintaining a strong nation. We do these things not because they are 'good' but because they are optimal.

That's what makes this issue so interesting. On paper we've fully embraced globalism while China has embraced outward globalism and inward nationalism. In reality the US market is still completely dominated by US companies or by companies from 'friendly' nations. E.g. in smartphones South Korea and USA make up the vast majority of all sales.

But now 'unfriendly' nations are increasingly creating products that are becoming not only competitive but in some cases industry leading. So we find ourselves in the position of countries such as China. Do you allow companies from 'unfriendly' nations to setup and start on what may be a path to dominance, or do you give unfair preference to domestic/'friendly' products? We never had this issue before because final product competition from 'unfriendly' nations was negligible!

And this is before you get into all the intelligence intrigue going on behind the scenes. The NSA has stated they have access to "extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information" [1] on the products of 'participating' companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others. Suffice to say companies such as Huawei are less likely to 'participate' in such activities.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_(surveillance_program)

I don't see what is ironic about a company playing along with international trade rules set by the US, a country that also defends their internal market (e.g. buy american act, recent tariffs on steel, etc.)

It's definitely a case of using the somewhat fair US court systems to enforce a do as we say not as we do scenario.

I imagine the USG will envoke national security protections to limit exposure of any information as they have in the past.

I don't really see this case going anywhere, more so with EU countries making similar claims and allegations of their operating practices.

IMO Huawei's just seeking to rehabilitate their image, if the US refuses to publicly release evidence that contradicts the preponderance of sources that couldn't find back doors, then the entire US campaign against Huawei can be dismissed as a smear campaign. It's going to make US look dirty/petty and allows Huawei/China to save face. Huawei shares source code with GCHQ and US have already hacked into Huawei internal emails and found nothing, it wouldn't surprise me if there's actually nothing. Of course the concern is future potential risk, and that's valid. But the short term concern is to dismantle the US narrative which so far seems to be feels over reals. Long term the risk-benefit analysis of most countries probably leans towards Huawei anyway (more advanced and cheaper). By most I countries I mean the the 150+ not under direct US sphere of influence. Hell even 3/5 Five Eyes are currently undecided.

...the US narrative which so far seems to be feels over reals.

Wow that's the last several decades in a nutshell.

>have already hacked into Huawei internal emails and found nothing

That means nothing, even if today the Chinese intelligence services take absolutely no interest in penetrating Huawei - which is laughable - that can change. If five years from now Huawei 5G equipment is used to build your countries 5G network, the Chinese gov uses their equivalent of a NSL and it's game over.

Even if today's Huawei is clean.

That's the real threat model. And that's why the US threatened 5 eyes countries to take away their access if they use Huawei equipment.

Yes the obvious concern is potential risk. But the PR spin is angry Americans (and allies) screaming China bad with no (public) evidence of back doors and a preponderance of public reports from governments and private security researchers that Huawei is clean. That's the kind of irrational sentiment Huawei wants to cultivate - innocent until proven guilty. Any rational person can see it's absurd to have China build critical infrastructure in the US who has unique security concerns as a hegemon. But her allies and other nations, not so much. This spin might be all that's needed for to rationalise Huawei.

Personally, I just wouldn't be surprised if Huawei is actually operating cleanly on paper (in terms of back doors) out of pragmatism and foresight because confrontation with US security apparatus seems inevitable. Hence the lack of evidence from even private security researchers with no incentive to conceal. Huawei knows they're not getting into US. The PR is for 190 other countries, some of which might be five eye allies with how things are going.

I arrived at the same conclusion.

The US is in panic, because not only is there a sense of crisis because the rest of the world is less and less willing to put up with the undemocratic behaviour of the US spying apperatus, this also hurts every US tech product abroad.

If I have to choose between potential future spying by china and actual in progress spying by the US, maybe I might go with china for now.

This threat model could apply to any Chinese companies or even any company outside US. Does that mean US could only use US-manufactured equipment? Does that mean the end of free market? Isn't the law system an evident based system? Is it enough to have such belief that it could go wrong to block competition?

> most countries probably leans towards Huawei anyway (more advanced and cheaper)

cheaper yes, but not really more advanced. (speaking of their RAN technology as well as their O&M plane, also their cloud is a clusterfcuk)

> Hell even 3/5 Five Eyes are currently undecided.

could you elaborate a bit more please? My understanding was that Australia, NZ, and UK were all aligned with the narrative pushed by the US. Which leaves Canada?

Australia was firm ban before US push due to past strains with China. US is obviously going to ban.

UK (Along with Germany and Italy) said Huawei concerns could be managed a couple weeks ago within 24 hours of each other. Shortly after that NZ, previously seemed firm ban, had their PM publicly clarify on radio that Huawei was not ruled out. A bunch of Canadian articles released about how UK waffling allowed fellow allies room to breath and "make independent" decision soon followed. China hit Australia with some coal ban, Canada with canola oil (over Meng extradition). I think everyone's just trying to manage the situation until after US-China trade deal settles. UK needs Chinese money because of Brexit. NZ also needs Chinese money and has... nothing much to steal. Canada... well I don't think we can hand Meng over to US and ban Huawei without being in the penalty box forever.

Unrelated Poland wants to US base to buffer against Russia, they came down hard on Huawei because US won't base with Huawei infrastructure. Hence Germany considering Huawei is causing a lot of tension with all the US bases. Shouldn't have spied on Merkel I guess. It's all a mess.

The coal ban in china is probably not related to .au more just protection of their internal coal mines.

NZ has an effective ban on Huawei kit aiui


Unless there's newer development. Like I said UK/CAN/NZ all waffled withing days of each other around time of article. It could just be theatre to help China save face, maintain trade while nominally soft ban. US declared after that they would not share intelligence with countries with Huawei kit. I don't think there's been development since. Who knows, if US trade deal with China screws over Five Eye allies - speculation that China is directing money from Canada canola oil, Australia coal to US coal and agriculture - maybe allies with be frustrated enough for the program to collapse.

Uk is a user thou

What evidence is required to support the statement “a Chinese company will do whatever it’s told to do by the communist party irrespective of the law”

The people that keep trying to defend that, have special Place with the people defending tobacco companies.

Actual evidence of backdoors would be a start.

There is a long list of state security enforced backdoors in american products. The list for Huawei is short. The US typically assumes the tactics itself uses must be used by anybody else.

If you want us to choose between the Chinese and the Five Eyes spying on us, providing actual evidence for Chinese spying would be worth a lot for the side that has at least traces of “democratic oversight” left as a figleaf.

I can certainly imagine incentives for the Chinese why they wouldn’t risk their long term gain for a short term spying information. To spy on everybody might be totally without alternative from the perspective of a struggling empire that crumbles on all corners, but not for a newcomer who might win more by not killing its tech industries by showing they can’t be trusted.

Still, if there is compelling evidence I might change my mind on the matter.

>Actual evidence of backdoors

There doesn't have to be a backdoor today. In the future, whenever they desire, the Chinese gov can ask Huawei for access and they will comply. That's the threat model.

Yeah, but if you have the choice between a product with an existing history of backdoors and one which potentially, at some point in the future based on political prediction could have one, how do you choose?

Let’s assume you are not in the US and industrial spionage will be bad for you independend if it happens from China or from the US.

The answer isn’t that clearcut.

Also: banning a product based on the possibility that it could get a backdoor in the future? That would mean banning all products with an update functionality.

Edit: as you might notice this is not compelling evidence

You are kidding You want to use equipment from a country that is known to steal IP. Hang on you want other people to use equipment under control of the communist party Now I get it. Your social credit score has increased

Same applies for other countries, nobody seems to care there. With companies like Cisco you don't even need that, seeing that they have a backdoor released every other week.

That just wrong. I know plenty people, that work on small-scale IT-infrastructure projects for municipal- and city-level administration. Cisco has become a liability as far as network equipment is considered.

just wrong

Near as I can tell, you agree that Cisco is a hazard, in precisely the way that Huawei is accused of being but is not. Are you really just disagreeing with the proposition that nobody cares about Cisco's problems?

>> Are you really just disagreeing with the proposition that nobody cares about Cisco's problems?

Yes, thats what I am disagreeing with... Nothing more nothing less. No word of Huawei, since they are considered a liability by default and I don't know people that work with telephony/cell-network infrastructure.

You are pretending to confuse state level spying and ip theft with incompetence


With Cisco it's systematic. I don't know if all their shit can be attributed to incompetence.

> Still, if there is compelling evidence I might change my mind on the matter.

You are trying to change other people’s mind. You are pretending to ignore IP theft, fairness if courts, future party ordered back doors While hand waving some concerns

Ps your social credit score just dropped

Wow such a strong voice for a foreign (to you) company, or is it - shifty eye look

Your position is weird, you need evidence that the Chinese are spying on you ? And you don’t think they do ? Ha too funny

You want proof that the Chinese communist party will never order them to insert a back door. ROTFL

You really are preparing your social credit score when the over lords arrive

GP is perfectly rational, without donning the "USA always right number one" goggles you seem to have had permanently attached. Why would any private individual in USA be more concerned about Chinese surveillance than about the surveillance of NSAFBIDEADOJ, who after all can lock any of us up and throw away the key?

Well unfortunately the world is divided into security zones so if you are in NATO or 5 eyes you’d be an idiot to use Chinese equipment If you have have valuable intellectual property you’d be an idot if you don’t think China hacks steals and passes it to its companies If you are neither then you are right

That quote does apply to the US as well. As a reminder, the NSA was revealed to have an established practice of backdooring export Cisco routers.

Not defending, just saying that's the kind of alternative security narrative that can sway countries not in an urgent existential struggle against Chinese ascent - aka US. The rest of the world, 190+ countries do not have the same risk-benefit analysis as the US. They mostly share the position of, both superpowers are going to spy on me, so maybe choose to buy infrastructure from the one that's cheaper, with a smaller military, that hasn't been used in active foreign aggression in 40 years.

I also find Huawei's position quite rich given they built their product stack from stealing Nortel IP in the 2000s.

This is just an appeal to hypocrisy and doesn't really discredit your parent's argument, which is more on topic.

Let me pick your argument apart:

> This is just an appeal to hypocrisy and doesn't really discredit your parent's argument, which is more on topic.

So, we are supposed to accept the following:

- criticizing China, a relatively poor country, for stealing IP is OK. The world must confront China on these practices

- the US has the high ground, since it is not stealing IP (now)

Now I point out that the US has reached its current position as tech leader by doing roughly the same, and basically you tell me

- we are not talking about the US

- what the US did decades (centuries?) ago is not the topic of discussion, and it is not relevant to the discussion

How is my evidence not relevant to the discussion?

Now let me try to clarify what I am saying:

The technology lead that US has has been achieved largely by doing what the US is trying to prevent other countries from doing now. This technology lead has a huge impact on the world (the American tax), and the world should refuse to pay it. The world should follow exactly the same approach that the US followed in the past: disregard the rules, and concentrate on their own interests.

Because the system is rigged.

Drawing rules once you have achieved a dominant position, and trying to enforce them in order for others to remain behind and continue paying the tax to the tech leader is not in the interest of the world.

Once we have a balanced situation, you can think about putting rules for everybody to follow. "Everybody" means that there must be an independent organization, not politicized, in charged of enforcing the rules.

Nortel was Canadian, not American.

Yeah all of Huawei’s complaining is a joke. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re being strongly requested to push this line by Chinese intelligence.

If I am not doing business in China, Russia, Vietnam, or South America the first thing I do in any environment is block those countries and LACNIC. Instantly my production security alerts drop by 2/3 and I get to sleep at night.

Is it me or has Huawei only appeared in media the last few months? All my years of reading HN, etc. and no recollection until recent controvery. Feels like they’ve managed to stir many waters in record time. For a company founded in 1987, what gave?

Huawei, and the Chinese industry in general is at the forefront of 5G coming soon, and the West is mad that China can be more advanced than them and scared that all the equipment we use for deploying 5G is from them and, consequently, full of (not backdoors) spying capabilities.

As someone whose country isn't part of five eyes, the hypocrisy makes me quietly laugh.

(Edit: updated for less gratuitous accusations)

The issue is not back doors in my opinion. It's more that the US is expecting 5G to be big (really big) and they don't want to world relying on China for their infrastructure. It's bad for (America's) national security and it gives China too much clout.

Sadly the five eyes couldn’t proof a single backdoor in Huawei products while the history of backdoors in US hardware is quite well documented.

If the five eyes hadn’t shown time and time again, that they don’t give a damn about the laws and rights of other democratic nations, and quite definitly use “security” as a token for industrial spionage, I might show more support.

But please show more than some fiction in which Huwawei has backdoors nobody managed to proof just yet.

Yeah they could. But do they?

The issue isn’t current back doors as you are trying to shift the conversation towards, it is about future Chinese government ordered back doors. I mean you’d have to be in a special dumb category to insert back doors today with all the coverage

If you are outside the Five Eyes, you are left with the choice between US products (with a documented history of spying also on democratic nations) and Chinese products, which potentially in the future could also be host for government backdoors.

This means the choice is only about who gets your trade secrets, with a bit more favour for huawei because they didn’t do it yet.

It is so easy from an US perspective to say “Take our product, we are the good ones” and conviniently ignoring that people tasked with building a infrastructure that isn’t beeing spied on have a hard time choosing here.

This would be easier if US products were actually trustworthy and there wasn’t a history of ignoring the rights of allied nations and court ordered backdoors. Why would I care if the backdoor was ordered by the chinese government or the US government? Both proofed they don’t really care about the rights of foreign citizen and both have aspirations to become or stay an empire.

The US damaged itself with it’s undemocratic spying practices and the final bill for it is not there yet. That beeing said I’d love to pay a bit more for a good product I can trust, but the US is not the place for such a product.

Aren't there European competitors for some/most of the stack like Nokia, Ericsson, as well Japanese?

Yes.. in fact none of the companies providing 5g infrastructure are American.

That is a very good point, except the US will not steal you IP and give it to Microsoft or some wind energy company. 2nd you can always take the US government to court, you can always take a US company to court and you will get a hearing without corruption without government directives

Your first point is somewhat valid for a company (although national spying capabilities have been used to favor national industries) but as a citizen I'm more concerned about the blatant disrespect for people's privacy, especially if you're not American.

The second point is irrelevant if you're not American. Also, can you name a company that endured severe, tangible repercussions for their spying?

If they had proof would they disclose it.

That would be worth a lot for cyberdefence also of their own soil. Sadly the US cyberoperations never thought much about defence.

As opposed to the world relying on, say, American equipment, because that would be better for all the countries' national security?

I definitely understand the argument but the hypocrisy is just too loud to put aside.

ESPECIALLY in Five Eyes locales.

What a ridiculous comment

Huawei made the Nexus 8P and has been in the news pretty regularly over the past few years. There has been a lot of recent media coverage because of this issue. You have been hearing more about them because there has been more newsworthy events, but they have been in the news for a while.

Maybe you mean Nexus 6P?

I think they've been bigger in Europe. I have a 3g dongle I got in 2013 in Ireland that's from Huawei. Every single "mobile broadband modem" that the providers here give you is from Huawei, annoyingly.

How come nobody talks about the NSA or other US secret agencies to spy on people while simultaneously dissing Huawei for "allegedly" building backdoors to spy on the public?


None of the 5g infrastructure providers are American. The choice isn’t between Huawei and an American company.. it’s between Huawei and a European or Japanese company.

It is unbelievable that Huawei can do this in US and pretty much in any democratic country. The reverse is absolutely not true. The Chinese government has used every tool at its disposal to make life miserable for foreign competitors - see Google's exit, AWS, Apple, Uber and countless other companies were / are still being harassed. When was the last time a foreign company won a court case in China against its local competitor and Chinese government took any adverse action against the local company?

So do you want us all to sink to their level, or actually be the democratic countries we pretend to be?

What would be the most american answer to this question?

Whatever makes the most money.

The correct response to defectbot is defecting back

The courts interpret the law, the government can pass a law to level the playing field

And I believe westerners could start a class action on Huawei as well


Well, to be honest I'm a Chinese, so it may sound weird but I was just predicting the counterattack US will commit. Therefore no, I won't take away nobody's job.

-- (off topic)

By the way, China is commencing Two Sessions/Lianghui[1] recently, so I believe what Huawei did is just right on the political time.

Perhaps we need not to over-react around this period about what's happening in China; certainly Huawei will chicken out after then.

Also, there are numerous anonymous reports that GFW is now on steroid, rendering "wall climbing"[2] harder but not impossible.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lianghui

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_circumvent...

Have you been following Huawei in the news?


Ignorance is bliss! I'm glad for you.

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