The U.S. Justice Department charged Huawei and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on Monday with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran by doing business with Tehran through a subsidiary it tried to hide.
The charges come as the two countries' leaders seek to end their monthslong trade war and with China's lead trade negotiator, Liu He, scheduled to meet with United States officials in Washington in coming days.
The meetings are part of what Trump agreed to with Chinese President Xi Jinping during meetings a year ago in Argentina, where they hatched a plan to spend 90 days talking about what it would take for the two countries to forge a trade alliance.
Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general, said grand juries in Seattle and NY had indicted Huawei, its affiliates and its chief financial officer on 23 criminal charges.
Department of Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross added to the condemnation.
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Today's indictments come following reports that federal prosecutors had been investigating Huawei on allegations of trade secret theft from American companies.
Meng was arrested in Canada at the request of American officials on December 1, and is being detained in Vancouver pending extradition proceedings.
Rick Fisher, a China military expert and senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the indictments are a "milestone" in the USA defense against China's espionage campaign.
The charges in both cases add to USA pressure on Huawei, the world's biggest telecommunications equipment maker.
David Martin, Meng's lawyer in Canada, didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
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The United States Justice Department on Monday unsealed a series of charges against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, further escalating tensions prompted by a prolonged campaign against the firm.
The U.S. Department of Justice is formally levelling 23 criminal charges against Chinese tech juggernaut Huawei Technologies, multiple subsidiaries and chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou. "China should be concerned about criminal activities by Chinese companies - and China should take action".
The indictments unsealed on Monday, US officials said, were the result of lengthy investigations and included almost two dozen charges.
Among the accusations, prosecutors say Huawei stole trade secrets, including the technology behind a robotic device that T-Mobile used to test smartphones. We look forward to presenting the evidence of Huawei's crimes in a court of law, and proving our case beyond a reasonable doubt.
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