Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is suspending its funding and research partnership with Huawei and ZTE amid government investigation, which is still ongoing. MIT is also adding extra layers of scrutiny to funding and projects linked with China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“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,” associate provost Richard Lester and vice president for research Maria Zuber wrote in a letter.
Down the line, the university plans to reevaluate its partnership with the companies. MIT did a review of its international partnerships and projects that showed as an “elevated risk.” They will examine factors such as risks “related to intellectual property, export controls, data security and access, economic competitiveness, national security, and political, civil and human rights.” In addition, MIT will evaluate how funding and projects align with their values and mission.
Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE have been under heavy scrutiny in recent years. Federal prosecutors have charged Huawei and chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou for violating US sanctions against Iran. Huawei has denied all charges, but the US has continued its efforts to hold the company liable.
The battle for 5G dominance has made headlines in recent years. The US is trying to restrict Huawei's efforts to dominate 5G around the world, fearful that China will use Huawei's infrastructure to spy on Americans and its allies. While the US is limiting Huawei's 5G dominance, there are countries like Malaysia that are welcoming Huawei's efforts.
ZTE has also faced accusations of violating US sanctions against Iran. US government stepped in to stop ZTE from buying parts from American suppliers for several months last year.
US government has continued to make it hard for American companies to do business with both Huawei and ZTE. Under the National Defense Authorization Act that President Donald Trump signed into law last August, entities that receive federal funding cannot use certain equipment from Huawei or ZTE.