Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced in a letter to colleagues that it will no longer collaborate on any new projects with Huawei, ZTE or any units of the two Chinese companies.
In the April 3 letter, MIT Associate Provost Richard Lester and Vice President for Research Maria Zuber said the school has recently determined that projects with China, Russia, and Saudi Arbai call for more faculty and administrative review beyond the usual evaluations that all of its international projects receive. As a result of the enhanced review, “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. The Institute will revisit collaborations with these entities as circumstances dictate.”
The call on the part of MIT comes as tensions between China and the U.S. are heightened amid a trade war that has hurt both countries’ economies. In recent months lawmakers raised concerns that ZTE and Huawei equipment could present a national security risk, asking government agencies to not do business with the two Chinese companies. The U.S. Department of Justice in January alleged Huawei violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and accused it of stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile, the U.S.-based wireless carrier.
Under MIT’s new policies for reviewing projects with international countries that could pose a risk, the university will pay close attention to “intellectual property, export controls, data security and access, economic competitiveness, national security, and political, civil and human rights.” MIT said in the letter that as circumstances change the list of countries can be modified.
MIT isn’t the only U.S. university cutting ties with Huawei. According to the South China Morning Post, Stanford University, University of California’s Berkeley and the University of Minnesota have all severed ties with the Chinese tech company. In a statement to the news outlet, a Huawei spokesman said the company is disappointed but understands the pressure the school is under. “We believe that scientific research is carried out for the benefit of all mankind, and should be free from the influence of geopolitics. Huawei denies the allegations of the U.S. government, and we trust the U.S. judicial system will ultimately reach the right conclusion,” the spokesman told the paper.