Huawei sent home US citizens working in its R&D office in China and barred employees from holding technical discussions with American business contacts, Financial Times (FT) reported.
The company also reportedly made changes to the way its branches in the US and China communicate, and is warning US visitors to its Shenzhen campus that their conversations must avoid technology-related topics.
Dang Wenshuan, Huawei’s chief strategy architect, told the newspaper the moves to limit contact with American citizens are part of the company’s effort to ensure compliance with trade restrictions recently imposed by the US government.
Legal experts told FT it’s unclear whether such measures are necessary. But Dang said the “boundary of the law” is hazy, adding the company is taking extra precautions “to be whiter than white”.
Huawei isn’t the only one making changes.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a prominent US-based research and standards group, recently barred Huawei employees from taking part in the peer-review process for new research set for publication in the group’s series of scientific journals.
Additionally, while Huawei employees will still be able to attend IEEE meetings and conferences which are open to the public, they will be prohibited from taking part in closed events involving technical discussions.
Other industry groups, including the SD Association and Wi-Fi Alliance, similarly implemented temporary restrictions on Huawei’s participation, while several prominent research universities in the US have cut ties with the company altogether.
In a statement sent to Mobile World Live, IEEE said the moves were meant to help it avoid “significant civil or criminal penalties” for violations of the US government’s trade policies.
“Compliance with these regulations protects IEEE, our volunteers, and our members…Should the U.S. government clarify the application of the EAR [Export Administration Regulations] with respect to peer review, we will further advise the IEEE community.”
While Huawei CEO and founder Ren Zhenghfei this week acknowledged the US export ban will cut into its 5G lead, it is unclear whether the limitations on R&D access will impact Huawei’s ability to stay competitive and make progress on global 5G standards.
In a research note, telecom analysts at investment banking group Jefferies warned the isolation effect “will likely lead to a breakdown of 3GPP”, delaying the release of the final 5G standards, slowing global rollouts and increasing the odds China will develop its own standalone specifications.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back