China slams US over ‘unreasonable crackdown’ on Huawei

China has lashed out against the United States, accusing it of trying to “kill” Chinese businesses after US prosecutors indicted telecom giant Huawei on a slew of charges.

“For some time now, the United States has deployed its state power to smear and crack down on targeted Chinese companies in an attempt to kill their normal and legal business operations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement Tuesday.

He added that Beijing sees “strong political motives and manipulation” behind the US charges against Huawei, which include conspiring to steal trade secrets and dodge American sanctions on Iran.

The US charges against Huawei, and Beijing’s angry response, come just days before the two governments are due to hold a new round of talks aimed at trying to defuse their damaging trade war. The US campaign against Huawei is part of a broader clash over technology between the two countries that experts say is likely to weigh on their relations for years to come.

Huawei is an industry leader in superfast 5G wireless networks, which are being rolled out around the world. The US government sees that as a security threat because of suspicions that the Chinese government could use the company’s products for spying.

Huawei has repeatedly disputed the US claims that its equipment poses a risk.

“We strongly urge the US to stop its unreasonable crackdown on Chinese companies, including Huawei, and treat Chinese companies objectively and fairly,” Geng said Tuesday. He added that Beijing will “firmly safeguard the legitimate and proper rights” of Chinese companies.

In a separate statement, Huawei denied the US charges, saying requests to meet with the US Justice Department had been “rejected without explanation.” The company said that the trade secret theft allegations were “already the subject of a civil suit that was settled by the parties.”

The United States also unsealed charges against Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, who was detained in Canada in December. Her arrest has fueled an escalating diplomatic feud between the Canadian and Chinese governments.

The United States is planning to request Meng’s extradition on charges she helped Huawei dodge US sanctions against Iran.

Beijing has repeatedly voiced its indignation over the charges against Meng, who denies any wrongdoing.

“The United States and Canada have abused their bilateral extradition treaty to take compulsory measures against a Chinese citizen without reason, seriously infringing upon the Chinese citizen’s legitimate rights and interests,” Geng said Tuesday.

He urged the US government to drop the arrest warrant against Meng and avoid “walking further down a wrong path.”

Hu Xijin, the editor of Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times, was even more critical of the US move.

“The US indictment against Huawei is like putting legal lipstick to a pig of political suppression. It is so disgusting,” Hu said on his official Twitter.