The prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology is cutting future research collaborations with Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE, citing US investigations into the companies’ alleged sanctions violations.
Federal authorities unveiled sweeping charges against Huawei in January for allegedly stealing technology and violating US sanctions on Iran.
The company has also been under fire in recent months as it faces a global US campaign to blacklist Huawei over espionage fears.
“MIT is not accepting new engagements or renewing existing ones with Huawei and ZTE or their respective subsidiaries due to federal investigations regarding violations of sanction restrictions,” vice president for research Maria Zuber and associate provost Richard Lester said in a letter.
“The Institute will revisit collaborations with these entities as circumstances dictate,” they added in the letter posted on MIT’s website on Wednesday.
Projects funded by people or groups from China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, those involving work in these countries, and collaborations with people or entities from the countries, would also be subject to “elevated-risk” reviews, they added.
The move comes as part of a broader effort to strengthen the process for reviewing international engagements, the letter added.
Other American universities including UC Berkeley and Stanford University have made similar moves to cut research ties with Huawei following the US indictments.
Earlier this year Oxford said it would not pursue new funding from Huawei for either research contracts or philanthropic donations — though existing projects would continue.
ZTE came close to collapse last year after American companies were banned from selling it vital components over its continued dealings with Iran and North Korea.
Huawei did not immediately return a request for comment.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang referred questions on the MIT case to the companies involved but said Beijing has always encouraged Chinese firms to abide by local and international rules.
“At the same time, we also urge the government of the country to provide a fair and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese enterprises,” Geng said at a regular press briefing.
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