Lidar maker Hesai sues US government, denies alleged link to China's military

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -China-based Hesai Group sued the U.S. government on Monday for adding the maker of lidar light sensors to a list of companies allegedly working with Beijing's military.

Hesai, whose lidars help self-driving cars and driver-assistance systems gain a three-dimensional map of the road, was added to the list by the U.S. Department of Defense in January along with over a dozen other companies.

While being placed on the list doesn't involve immediate bans, it represents a warning to U.S. entities and companies about the risks of conducting business with them.

"No Chinese governmental or military entity has sought to exert influence or control over the Hesai Group's management, strategy, or research-and development operation," Hesai said in the lawsuit, adding it was majority owned by shareholders outside China.

Addition to the so-called 1260H list caused "serious reputational injury, a significant drop in stock price, and lost business opportunities," it said, asking a U.S. district court to order the government to remove Hesai from the list.

The defense department said it does not comment on matters of litigation.

In Monday's lawsuit, Hesai, listed in New York since early last year, said the department "afforded no warning, no explanation, and no opportunity to defend itself prior to the listing."

The government had not provided any substantive response to its requests for removal or efforts to resolve the issue out of court, it said, adding that it designed and makes products only for commercial and civilian uses.

Some U.S. lawmakers have raised concerns about the use of AV technology such as lidar, radar and semiconductors when made by Chinese firms, citing alleged risks of data on American people collected and potentially shared with China.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Reuters last year his agency had national security concerns about such technologies and that there was a need to better understand "the true ownership of the different enterprises that are supplying different elements of our transportation systems."

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in San Francisco; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)