Huawei splits from US research arm amid crackdown

WASHINGTON • The US-based research arm of China's Huawei Technologies - Futurewei Technologies - has moved to separate its operations from its corporate parent since the US government put Huawei on a trade blacklist last month, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Futurewei has banned Huawei staff from its offices, moved its own employees to a new IT system and forbidden them from using the Huawei name or logo in communications.

Huawei, however, will continue to own Futurewei.

Mr Milton Frazier, Futurewei's general counsel, declined to comment on the separation, referring questions to Huawei spokesman Chase Skinner, who did not answer questions about the move.

The division of operations comes as many US universities have halted research partnerships with Huawei in reaction to US government allegations that the firm poses a national security threat.

Huawei is among the world's largest telecommunications equipment manufacturers.

The US Commerce Department last month placed the firm on its "Entity List" of organisations that pose security risks. The Justice Department earlier filed charges against the firm, alleging theft of trade secrets and other crimes.

 
 
 
 

Futurewei is Huawei's US-based research and development arm. The firm employs hundreds of people at offices in Silicon Valley and the greater Seattle, Chicago and Dallas areas, according to its workers' LinkedIn pages.

Futurewei has filed more than 2,100 patents in such areas as telecommunications, 5G mobile networks as well as video and camera technologies, according to data from the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Until now, Futurewei's operations have been largely indistinguishable from Huawei's. Futurewei had no separate brand or even a website, the employees said, and its staff often identified themselves as Huawei employees.

Both companies have conducted a wide range of research partnerships and grant programmes with US universities.

Last year, 26 members of Congress sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, warning that Huawei's partnerships with at least 50 US universities "may pose a significant threat to national security".

The fear is that Huawei is using university partnerships to scoop up research in areas like artificial intelligence, telecommunications and robotics, which could be used in hacking or spying operations or to give Chinese firms an edge over US competitors.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2019, with the headline 'Huawei splits from US research arm amid crackdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe