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China backs Huawei for “refusing to be victimised like silent lambs”

China NPC

Any remaining doubt that Huawei has become a pawn in a broader geopolitical game have been dispelled by the Chinese state’s direct involvement in its case.

At a press conference on the sidelines of the big National People’s Congress jamboree in Beijing China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi made it clear that he has got Huawei’s back in the legal action it has taken against the US government. This appears to be the first time the Chinese state has decided to get publicly involved in the matter, although it has surely been highly active behind the scenes throughout the process.

Wang’s comments appeared to address both the lawsuit and the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is in the process of being extradited from Canada to the US on fraud charges. The general tone of his comments is to paint the US as a bully and to praise Huawei for standing up to it. The possibility of Huawei or anyone within it actually having done anything wrong doesn’t seem to have been a consideration.

“We support the company and individual in question in seeking legal redress to protect their own interests and refusing to be victimized like silent lambs,” Wang is widely reported to have said. Meanwhile China Daily, to which we must credit the above image, reports that he said it is the duty of the Chinese government to protect the interests of Chinese businesses and citizens.

While it’s understandable that Wang feels that way it’s debatable how helpful this public intervention will be to Huawei. The fundamental charge against from a Western perspective is that it’s just too close to the Chinese state for comfort, so a protective outburst from that very same state would appear to confirm those suspicions.

Having said that it’s not like China can just take all this US provocation lying down. It might have decided to keep quiet about the US sales restrictions indefinitely if they hadn’t gone and arrested Wanzou, but now it’s personal. This marks the culmination of a counter-attack that has played out over the course of this week, about which the US has been uncharacteristically quiet.

Here’s a full translated transcript of Wang’s comments in Mandarin our research has dug up for you, which takes a slightly different slant on the ‘silence of the lambs’ quote.

Wang Yi: “We are determined to be impartial and objective, but it is plain to see that recent actions against Chinese businesses and individuals are not simply legal, but a deliberate political crackdown.  In this respect we have taken, and will continue to take, any steps necessary to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese businesses and citizens, that is the absolute duty of the Chinese government.  At the same time we support the right of particular businesses and individuals to exercise their legal rights and safeguard their interests where appropriate and not be silent like lambs.”

Chinese reporter’s question: Everyone is very concerned about the case of Meng Wanzhou, which has made new progress yesterday. The Canadian court decided to postpone extradition hearing, while Huawei announced that it would sue the US government. In this matter, many public opinion believes that the United States is obviously political pressure on China’s high-tech enterprises, what do you think?

Wang Yi: “We believe justice will be served. What we want to safeguard today is not only the rights and interests of a business, but the legitimate right of a country and a nation to develop, and also the rights of all countries in the world who wish to improve their own level of scientific and technological development. We hope that all parties can abide by the rules, abandon prejudice, jointly create a level playing field for enterprises in various countries, and together provide a safe and reliable environment for people from all over the world to communicate. Thank you.”

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