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Huawei’s research division builds separate US identity

The U.S.-based research arm of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd: Futurewei Technologies Inc: has moved to separate its operations from its corporate parent since the U.S government in May put Huawei on a trade blacklist, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Futurewei removed Huawei staff from their headquarters, transferred Futurewei staff to a new IT scheme and prohibited them from using the Huawei brand or logo in correspondence; a Futurewei worker informed Reuters on anonymity situation. Huawei will continue to own Futurewei, the employee said.

Milton Frazier, the general counsel for Futurewei, refused to report on the split or the approach behind it, prompting concerns to Chase Skinner, Huawei’s spokesperson. Skinner hasn’t answered the activity concerns.

READ: Huawei woes likely halve Samsung Electronics’ second-quarter profit

Operations department, which has not been mentioned earlier, emerges as many U.S. universities have stopped study relationships with Huawei in response to U.S. government accusations that the firm presents a danger to national security. Many universities are also reconsidering their connections with other Chinese companies. Huawei is one of the world’s biggest producers of telecommunications appliances.

In May, the Department of Commerce put the company on its “agency roster” of organisations posing safety hazards. Previously, the Justice Department lodged lawsuits against the company involving the theft of trade secrets and other offences.

Futurewei is the U.S.-based R&D subsidiary of Huawei. According to the LinkedIn websites of its employees, the company hires hundreds of individuals at Silicon Valley headquarters and the major regions of Seattle, Chicago and Dallas. According to data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Futurewei has filed more than 2,100 patents in areas such as telecommunications, 5 G cellular networks and video and camera technologies.

Until now, the activities of Futurewei were mostly indistinguishable from Huawei, said the worker of Futurewei. The worker said that Futurewei did not have a distinct brand or even a blog, and its staff often recognised themselves as Huawei employees.

Both businesses have partnered with U.S. universities in a broad spectrum of study projects and award programs.

Last year, 26 Congress representatives sent a memo to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos saying that Huawei’s alliances with at least 50 U.S. colleges “may present a major danger to domestic safety.” The concern is that Huawei will use college alliances to pick up studies in fields such as synthetic intellect, electronics and technology that could be used in hacking or spyii.

Some colleges are dealing with the possibility of continuing relationships with Futurewei-which is not on the agency roster of the government even as they are suspending financing and study agreements with Huawei.

For example, the University of California-Berkeley allows scientists to continue operating with Futurewei after suspending all financing and transfers of data with Huawei in May, as directed by Berkeley Research Chief Randy Katz.

Berkeley has also stopped Futurewei financing but remains to allow Futurewei staff under certain constraints to engage in study assessments, Katz replied to the professors. Berkeley employees and learners can now only operate with Futurewei employees who are U.S. citizens or continuous legal inhabitants and decide not to discuss some delicate data with Huawei in advance.

Companies on the list of entities are prohibited from purchasing parts and components from American companies without the approval of the U.S. government. Most colleges also checked the roster when taking grant or partnership choices, American Universities Association’s Tobin Smith said.

Katz said he issued his guidance on Futurewei out of an “abundance of caution” to ensure researchers don’t break laws that prevent sharing sensitive U.S. technology with entity-listed companies. Berkeley determined that the same limitations as Huawei did not encompass Futurewei after checking with the Department of Commerce, Katz referred to the professors.

“However, other measures against Futurewei may be taken by the U.S. government,” he stated.

The Department of Commerce could not legally put Futurewei on the roster of entities because, the organisation said in a declaration, it is a U.S. corporation. Commerce spokesperson Ari Schaffer did not address concerns about whether and how the organisation controls associations with entity-list businesses or their U.S. subsidiaries in studies at universities.

There is nothing illegal about schools receiving award cash or undertaking studies with such firms, said Erick Robinson, director of the practice of China at Dunlap, Bennett & Ludwig business company. What is forbidden, he said, is any move by any individual or organisation of “vital private equipment” to Huawei.


In January, the U.S. Justice Department announced accusations against Huawei and an officer related to a supposed plan to mislead companies and the U.S. about their company operations in Iran, which is subject to U.S. sanctions. Attorneys also indicted T-Mobile US Inc. with theft robotic technology. In both instances, the business admitted not liable.

The crackdown on Huawei arises amid an escalating U.S.-China trade conflict in which a bone of dispute has been the return of U.S. technology and intellectual property to Chinese firms.

Concerning Berkeley, the range of universities that have collaborated with Huawei or Futurewei involves universities such as Stanford, Princeton and Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan University, and Austin University of Texas.

READ: U.S. legal loophole avoiding Trump’s Huawei blacklist being exploited

Congressman Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican who issued the alert document about Huawei’s university associations, said any attempt to divide Futurewei’s and Huawei’s activities would not address those issues.

“Futurewei is Huawei,” Banks informed Reuters. Banks launched a proposal in March called the “Protect Our Universities Act” which would allow government agencies to limit or withdraw public financing for any delicate study venture conducted out with businesses that present a danger of espionage. The proposal lists Huawei and several other Chinese technology businesses as targets, along with any company-owned company.


Over the previous two years, UC Berkeley has got almost US$ 8 million from both companies, UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogoluf said. Katz, Berkeley’s study director, said that if the President’s Office of the University of California provides his consent, the college will reconsider its moratorium on getting cash from Futurewei.

In a declaration, the agency, which supervises ten public universities including Berkeley, said it intends to combine safety issues with keeping an “accessible educational atmosphere” for global academics.

Kathryn Moler, Dean of Research at Stanford, said the university “stopped” in December with new financing contracts from Huawei and Futurewei but proceeded to work under current arrangements with the companies. Moler did not address concerns as to whether Stanford would continue to receive cash from the companies and refused to elaborate on whether it would raise its moratorium on new financing from Futurewei if it separated its activities from Huawei.

Stanford professor of computer science John Ousterhout said his office received US$ 500,000 daily from Futurewei and had been in discussions to increase that to US$ 2 million when he heard about the moratorium.

“I’m not here to protect Huawei. Huawei may have accomplished some severely poor stuff,” said Ousterhout. But universities, he said, “shouldn’t be a tool for law enforcement or foreign policy enforcement.” Andrew Chien, a professor at the University of Chicago who lost funding from Huawei, said the computer science community needs to “grow up” and recognise the kind of security risks that colleagues in such disciplines as physics, whose work has military applications, have long managed.

“Computing has become so essential and key-and so harmful,” he said. “We’re beyond the stage of denying that.”

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