The Chinese government described the indictments as “deep political motivations and manipulations.” China’s comments come as relations between the two nations harden on the eve of crucial trade talks.
The foreign ministry also complained that Washington has “mobilized state power” to hurt Chinese companies “in an attempt to strangle fair and just operations.”
“We strongly urge the United States to stop the unreasonable crackdown on Chinese companies including Huawei,” the Chinese government said in a statement, adding that it will “firmly defend” its companies, though it gave no indication whether Beijing might retaliate for the charges against Huawei, China’s first global tech brand and biggest maker of switching gear for phone and internet companies.
On Monday, U.S. prosecutors announced a 13-count indictment against Huawei, two of its affiliates and a top executive at the company, Meng Wanzhou.
In this Dec. 12, 2018, file photo, Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou arrives at a parole office with a security guard in Vancouver, British Columbia. China on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, demanded the U.S. drop a request that Canada extradite the top executive of the tech giant Huawei. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
Meng, the company’s chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1. Prosecutors have been seeking to extradite her from Canada ever since.
China detained two Canadians shortly after Meng’s arrest in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release her. A Chinese court also sentenced a third Canadian to death in a sudden retrial of a drug case, overturning a 15-year prison term handed down earlier.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang is demanding Canada “take seriously China’s solemn position, immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and protect her legitimate and legal rights.” Shuang also urges the U.S. to “immediately withdraw the arrest warrant against Miss Meng Wanzhou and stop making such kinds of extradition requests.”
It is unlikely the U.S. will budge.
“As you can tell from the number and magnitude of the charges, Huawei and its senior executives repeatedly refused to respect U.S. law and standard international business practices,” FBI Director Chris Wray said at a Monday news conference.
The charges include bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
A separate case filed in Washington state charges Huawei with stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile USA, and then obstructing justice when T-Mobile threatened to sue Huawei in Federal Court in Seattle.
Prosecutors also allege Huawei used a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
Huawei has long been seen as a front for spying by the Chinese military or security services.
“As I told high-level Chinese law enforcement officials in August, we need more law enforcement cooperation with China,” acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker said at the news conference with other Cabinet officials, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “China should be concerned about criminal activities by Chinese companies, and China should take action.”
Headquartered in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, Huawei has rejected the U.S. accusations.
“The company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of U.S. law set forth in each of the indictments,” a Huawei statement said.
Huawei is “not aware of any wrongdoing by Ms. Meng, and believes the U.S. courts will ultimately reach the same conclusion,” it said.
Frank Miles, Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.