Huawei has been investing in US research despite being banned

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It’s been a while since the US has restricted Huawei from working with US-based companies. The US has also imposed restrictions on Chinese semiconductor firms linked to Huawei. The trade sanctions have no doubt slowed down the technological advancement of the Chinese giant. The FCC plans to prevent Huawei from certifying wireless equipment heading towards the US.

In the latest news, Bloomberg reveals that not everything between the company and the US has been stopped. Huawei has been funding cutting-edge research happening at universities in the US despite being banned. The researchers are getting the money through an independent Washington-based research foundation.

Huawei has been secretly funding researchers in the US

According to Bloomberg, Huawei was the only funder of the research competition. It has been awarded millions of dollars since 2022 and attracted hundreds of proposals from scientists. Many of them are associated with the top US universities that have actually banned researchers from working with Huawei. But they didn’t even know from where exactly the funding had been coming.

Huawei funding the research works in the US despite being banned by the government could actually be a matter of concern. The innovations from a successful research work will offer China an advantage in its defense contracting and commercial interests, noted Kevin Wolf, a partner at the business-focused law firm Akin who specializes in export controls.

But what exactly was the research all about? Well, Optica, the research foundation has previously revealed that it was interested in high-sensitivity optical sensors and detectors, among other categories of research.

James Mulvenon, a defense contractor said that It’s a bad look for a prestigious US research foundation to be anonymously accepting investment from Huawei, a banned Chinese company that raises so many national security concerns for the US government. He has worked on research security issues and co-authored several books on industrial espionage.

Funding research intended for publication is not illegal for Huawei even if it’s banned

Huawei funding researchers in the US is not illegal. It does not fall under the preview of the trade restrictions. Huawei funds similar competitions in other places as well, although those are all public. The Chinese giant provided $1 million per year and Optica kept the source secret.

A Huawei spokesperson has told Bloomberg that the Chinese giant and the Optica Foundation created the competition to support global research and promote academic communication. According to him, Huawei remained anonymous to keep from being seen as a promotion of some kind.

Optica also supported the matter saying many funders prefer to remain anonymous and “there is nothing unusual about this practice.” The foundation also revealed that the entire board knew about Huawei’s involvement and that everyone agreed on it.

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