Huawei employees worked with China military on research projects

A Huawei company logo is seen at CES Asia 2019 in Shanghai China

A Huawei company logo is seen at CES Asia 2019 in Shanghai China

Huawei has even asserted it has some form of immunity to China's cybersecurity law, which expressly states all Chinese companies must cooperate fully with intelligence agents upon demand. "There is no so-called Chinese military background", he said, obliquely referring to company founder Ren Zhengfei's stint as a PLA military engineer during his impoverished youth.

Those fears led the USA government to bar federal agencies from purchasing Huawei equipment via the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2019.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that several of the company's workers have collaborated on research projects with "members of various organs of" the People's Liberation Army (PLA). These were researchers from the same university that worked with a Huawei employee on at least one project.

Bloomberg's Tim Culpan noted in a Thursday op-ed that private corporations contributing to military projects are hardly unusual, but Huawei's problem is that it has labored for years to convince global customers that it has no connection at all to a Chinese military intelligence apparatus that is very active in cyber-espionage and information theft. But that was cast in doubt because the study's authors "identified themselves as Huawei employees", and "the company name was prominently listed at the top of the papers", according to Bloomberg.

In a statement, it stressed that it "does not have any R&D collaboration or partnerships with the PLA-affiliated institutions", adding: "Huawei only develops and produces communications products that conform to civil standards worldwide, and does not customize R&D products for the military".

The project focused on better understanding and classifying the emotions of comments on online videos, and appeared to be funded by a Chinese government information security program.

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Other studies included a 2006 paper on America's combat network radio efficiency, authored by Zheng Chuangming, from the Shenzhen Huawei Base, and the study of the genesis and outlook of the geographical information system, used to collate and parse location data, authored by Huawei employee Li Jie and two military researchers, one of whom was from the National University of Defence Technology.

"As everybody knows, Huawei is a privately-owned company that has developed independently", spokesman Ren Guoqiang said at a monthly briefing on Thursday. The report was careful to note that its findings don't indicate a direct relationship between Huawei and the Chinese military.

Since coming under fire from Washington past year, Huawei has adopted an aggressive media push to deny the alleged close relations with Beijing and espionage accusations.

In an interview with the BBC in February, he denied that Huawei received government subsidies.

But company records show the group has taken in hundreds of millions of dollars in research grants from Beijing during the last decade.

A Huawei spokeswoman later told AFP that Ren meant Huawei did not receive any "special" subsidies from the government.

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