In recent months, federal charges brought against the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei have prompted the nation’s research institutions, including the University, to cut funding ties with the company.
Huawei has long been regarded as a potential security threat, and with recent developments, the company has come under intense scrutiny. In December, Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO, was arrested in Canada for extradition to the United States — and just under two months later, the government accused Huawei of a flurry of criminal charges, ranging from stealing technology to violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Heeding federal warnings, research institutions in the United States have begun cutting ties with Huawei. According to data from the Department of Education, Huawei has given over $10 million in gifts to universities over the past six years. Cornell received the largest amount, but the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UC Berkeley, Stanford, and the University have accepted gifts as well.
According to University spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss, the University “decided in July 2018 not to accept any new gifts from Huawei.”
Furthermore, in January this year, the University did “not accept the third and final $150,000 installment of a gift in support of computer-science research,” Hotchkiss added.
There are currently no Huawei-supported projects at the University.
Prof. Colleen Kenny, coordinator of the University’s undergraduate computer science program, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from “the ‘Prince.’”
Mechanical and aerospace engineering concentrator Will Kelly ’19 noted that “China is a totalitarian state with advanced data aggregation capabilities.”
“We have no reason to let Chinese state-sponsored telecoms operate in our domestic information domain,” Kelly said.
Jerry Wei GS ’19, a computer science researcher in the Center for Information Technology Policy, warned that software supply attacks, such as “target[ing] vendor equipment with malware” and “inserting unauthorized software backdoors during development,” present a real and dangerous threat.
“Huawei’s equipment, especially with its penetration in various states’ infrastructure, allows China to easily launch such attacks on the United States,” Wei added.