30 May 2019 | Meng Jing | Inkstone
The impact of American sanctions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has extended beyond business to reach scientific research.
The New York-based IEEE, or Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, has moved to ban Huawei employees from peer-reviewing research papers submitted to its journals after the Chinese company was added to a US trade blacklist.
IEEE is the world’s biggest technical professional organization and publishes more than 200 journals.
The decision by IEEE was leaked online across Chinese social media on May 29, igniting a backlash from some of the country’s leading scientists who described the move as “anti-science” and “violating academic freedom.”
Zhang Haixia, a professor with the Institute of Microelectronics at Peking University, said on her WeChat account yesterday she was quitting IEEE because the decision to comply with the trade blacklist went “far beyond the basic line of science and technology” and challenged her professional integrity.
“As a professor, I do not accept this,” Zhang wrote online in a public letter addressed to IEEE president-elect Toshio Fukuda.
Her resignation letter was viewed more than 40,000 times within hours since it was posted.
Huawei staff members are also barred from serving as editors of IEEE’s journals.
Huawei said it had no comment about the peer review ban. IEEE did not immediately respond to an emailed inquiry.
IEEE said that it was complying with US regulations that “restrict the ability of the listed Huawei companies and their employees to participate in certain activities that are not generally open to the public. This includes certain aspects of the publication peer review and editorial process.”
The ban comes amid a raging tech war between the world’s two biggest economies, which recently escalated when the US government placed Huawei and its affiliates under the US Entity List on May 16. That bars them from buying hardware, software and services from American hi-tech suppliers without US approval.
A succession of major American technology companies, from Google and Microsoft to Intel and Qualcomm, have suspended dealings with Huawei to comply with the US trade ban.
President Donald Trump has also signed an executive order barring US companies from using telecoms equipment made by companies that pose a threat to national security.
IEEE had more than 422,000 members in more than 160 countries as of December 31 last year.
IEEE counts more than 20,000 of its members in China, home to the third largest number of members, after the United States and India, according to the organization’s China office.