Huawei Secretly Helped North Korea Build, Maintain Wireless Network: Wash. Post

By Reuters
July 22, 2019 Updated: July 22, 2019

WASHINGTON—Huawei Technologies, the Chinese company that the United States blacklisted because of national security concerns, secretly helped North Korea build and maintain its commercial wireless network, The Washington Post reported, citing sources and internal documents.

The Chinese telecommunications giant partnered with a state-owned Chinese firm, Panda International Information Technology Co. Ltd., on a number of projects in North Korea over at least eight years, the Post reported on July 22.

Such a move would raise questions of whether Huawei, which has used U.S. technology in its components, violated U.S. export controls to furnish North Korea with equipment, according to the Post.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security put Huawei on its “Entity List” in May, which bars U.S. companies from selling most U.S. parts and components to Huawei without special licenses. However, President Donald Trump said in June that U.S. firms could resume some sales in a bid to restart trade talks with Beijing.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow was scheduled to host a meeting with semiconductor and software executives on July 22 to discuss the U.S. ban on sales to Huawei.

Huawei didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in a statement to The Washington Post that it had “no business presence” in North Korea. It wasn’t immediately possible to reach the Panda Group.

The Commerce Department, which also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, has investigated possible links between Huawei and North Korea since 2016, but hasn’t publicly connected the two, the Post stated.

Huawei and Panda vacated their Pyongyang office in the first half of 2016, the newspaper reported.

In January, the U.S. Department of Justice  unsealed two indictments against Huawei, its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, and several of the company’s subsidiaries, in a pair of legal cases accusing the company of violating sanctions against Iran, and stealing trade secrets from U.S. mobile carrier T-Mobile.

Meng is currently released on bail in Canada and faces extradition to the United States.

By Makini Brice