Huawei staff in military work link

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 28 Jun 2019

Huawei employees have teamed up with Chinese military scientists to carry out research - a collaboration that challenges the telecom giant's assertion it has no ties to the country's government or armed forces.

Founded by former People's Liberation Army engineer Ren Zhengfei, Huawei is suspected by Washington of having deep ties to China's military and is cited as a security threat.

President Donald Trump last month placed Huawei on a blacklist, prohibiting US firms from selling components to the company, though a 90-day reprieve was granted.

Several research papers published since 2009 show Huawei employees have worked with experts at different arms of the PLA, but the company has gone to great lengths to deny any close relationship with China's government or military - especially since coming under fire from Washington last year.

Microsoft researchers in China raised eyebrows this year for their work with scholars affiliated with a Chinese military-backed university. And researchers from the same university worked with a Huawei employee on at least one project.

Huawei employees and PLA members have worked together on at least 10 research projects including artificial intelligence and radio communications, according to Bloomberg News. Ren has denied Huawei maintains military connections, but the academic papers list the names of researchers and the Huawei units they work for.

An employee at Huawei's Shanghai office is listed as lead author of a research project alongside a member of PLA unit 78156 and another researcher at an investigative center under the Central Military Commission.

The project focused on better understanding the emotions of comments on online videos and appeared to be funded by a Chinese government information security program.

Another paper was authored by an employee at Huawei's Beijing office who teamed up with a computer scientist from the National University of Defense Technology and others to look into analyzing software quality, security and reliability.

Huawei is not aware of employees publishing research papers in an individual capacity, a spokeswoman said, adding that it does not have any R&D collaboration with PLA-linked institutions.

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