Big tech firms cut employees’ access to Huawei

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According to Reuters, some large tech firms are limiting the contact their engineers have with Huawei to avoid any potential punitive measures by US authorities [File: Jason Lee/Reuters] According to Reuters, some large tech firms are limiting the contact their engineers have with Huawei to avoid any potential punitive measures by US authorities

Some of the world’s biggest tech companies have told their employees to stop talking about technology and technical standards with counterparts at Huawei Technologies Co Ltd in response to the recent blacklisting by the United States of the Chinese tech firm, people familiar with the matter have told Reuters news agency.

Chipmakers Intel Corp and Qualcomm Inc, mobile research firm InterDigital Wireless Inc and South Korean carrier LG Uplus have restricted employees from informal conversations with Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, the sources told Reuters.

Such discussions are a routine part of international meetings where engineers gather to set technical standards for communications technologies, including the next generation of mobile networks known as 5G.

The US Department of Commerce has not banned contact between companies and Huawei. On May 16, the agency put Huawei on a blacklist, barring it from doing business with US companies without government approval, then a few days later it authorised US companies to interact with Huawei in standards bodies through August “as necessary for the development of 5G standards”. The Commerce Department reiterated that position on Friday in response to a question from Reuters.

Nevertheless, at least a handful of major US and overseas tech companies are telling their employees to limit some forms of direct interaction, the people said, as they seek to avoid any potential issues with the US government.

Intel and Qualcomm said they have provided compliance instructions to employees, but declined to comment on them further.

A spokesman for InterDigital said it has provided guidance to engineers to ensure the company is in compliance with US regulations.

An official with LG Uplus said the company is “voluntarily refraining from interacting with Huawei workers, other than meeting for network equipment installation or maintenance issues”.

Huawei did not provide comment.

“The US government has provided no evidence to show that Huawei is a security threat. There is no gun, no smoke. Only speculation,” Song Liuping, Huawei’s chief legal officer said at a news briefing last month.