HONG KONG——The Chinese electronics giant Huawei sued the United States government on Wednesday, arguing that it had been unfairly and incorrectly banned as a security threat.
The lawsuit will force the government to make its case against the company more public, but it could also leave Huawei vulnerable to deeper scrutiny of its business practices and relationship with the Chinese government.
“The U.S. Congress has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products,” Guo Ping, Huawei’s rotating chairman, said in a statement announcing the filing of the lawsuit. “We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in a United States District Court in Plano, Tex., where Huawei has its American headquarters, argues that part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act is unconstitutional because it singles out Huawei. The act bans government agencies from contracting with Huawei or companies that use the company’s equipment.
华为是在其美国总部所在地德克萨斯州普莱诺的联邦地区法院提起诉讼。诉讼称2019年《国防授权法案》(National Defense Authorization Act)的部分条款违宪，因为它是仅针对华为的。该法案禁止政府机构与华为或使用华为设备的公司签订合同。
Huawei, China’s biggest maker of telecommunications equipment, has been under pressure for months by the United States authorities. Now, it’s striking back. The suit is part of a markedly aggressive legal and public relations offensive that Huawei has recently mounted to push back against spying accusations.
During a news briefing broadcast on an official Huawei feed on Twitter, Mr. Guo pulled no punches.
“The U.S. government has long branded Huawei as a threat, it has hacked our service and stolen our emails and source code,” he said, referring to National Security Agency documents provided by the former contractor Edward J. Snowden that showed the agency had pried its way into Huawei’s systems.
“美国政府一直污蔑华为是威胁，还攻击我们的服务器，窃取邮件和源代码，”他说，他指的是美国国家安全局(National Security Agency)前承包商雇员爱德华·J·斯诺登(Edward J. Snowden)提供的文件，文件显示该机构曾侵入华为的系统。
“Still, the U.S. government is sparing no effort to smear the company and mislead the public about Huawei,” he added. The briefing, streamed on Twitter — an American internet platform blocked in China — reached more than two million people.
In December, Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder and the chief financial officer of the company, was detained in Canada at the behest of the United States, which is seeking to extradite her.
Her father, Ren Zhengfei, the company’s founder, has since rejected the claims against his daughter and said that he would wait to see if President Trump would intervene in the case. Ms. Meng has been in court this week in Vancouver, British Columbia, as part of an extradition hearing.
In the meantime, Huawei has battled against many of its customers and nations that have said they would pull back from buying its products. China has also retaliated against Canada by detaining several Canadian citizens. This week, Canadian officials also complained that China had begun to suspend the import of canola from the country.
Lu Kang, the spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday that the Chinese decision was based on the discovery of pests in Canadian canola.
China has a long history of interrupting trade with other countries in the middle of diplomatic spats. In September 2010, China halted the export of rare earth metals to Japan for two months during a dispute over the sovereignty of a cluster of tiny islands between Japan and Taiwan. Weeks later, China suspended trade talks with Norway and then halted the import of Norwegian salmon after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a Chinese dissident by a Norwegian committee.
Huawei’s lawsuit argues that by singling out the company, Congress has violated constitutional principles on the separation of powers and also the bill of attainder clause, which prohibits legislation that singles out a person or entity for punishment without trial.
“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.
They added that the prohibitions have been carried out without “a fair hearing or the opportunity to rebut the allegations against it, and without opportunity for escape.”
The Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab filed, and ultimately lost, a similar legal challenge two years ago. After the Department of Homeland Security directed federal agencies to ban Kaspersky products from their systems, Congress codified the directive into a law.
Kaspersky filed two lawsuits arguing it had been singled out for punishment without a trial. A judge ultimately dismissed the lawsuits, pointing out they came from a legitimate desire to protect American networks.
While the Justice Department filed criminal charges against Huawei earlier this year, those suits focus on the company’s connections to evading American sanctions on Iran and its theft of intellectual property. Neither relates to the core question faced by governments around the world about whether using Huawei’s equipment in new 5G networks causes security concerns.
The new suit seeks to focus on that question, and push the United States government to make the case. While it is unlikely Huawei will reverse American opposition to the company, it may hope to win back representatives from governments in countries like those in Europe, who will be closely following the lawsuit.
Debate about the security of Huawei’s systems has come at a critical moment, with countries around the world preparing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on expanding cellular networks to next generation 5G technology.
The new networks will have faster speeds, but also be used to connect a bewildering number of new sensors and data-collection systems alongside smartphones. That would make vulnerabilities in the networks potentially more serious than with the cell networks of the past.
Mr. Lu, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, expressed support for Huawei’s legal action.
“We believe that it is perfectly justified and fully understandable for companies to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests through legal means,” he said.
Many Chinese expressed support on social media for Huawei’s legal stand against the United States. Some others noted with sarcasm the difficulties of similar legal recourse for companies or individuals within China’s system.
“So you can sue a government?” wrote one user on Weibo, the Chinese social media service. “Interesting. All of a sudden I’m thinking, actually I don’t dare think about it.”.