US-Based Research Body Bars Huawei From Peer Review, Editorial Process

By Frank Fang, Epoch Times
May 30, 2019 Updated: June 4, 2019

A major U.S.-based research society has joined a growing list of companies and organizations that have decided to cut ties with Chinese tech giant Huawei, in compliance with a U.S. government export ban.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an international professional association for engineers and a prominent publisher of technical research, issued a statement on its website on May 29, announcing that it would limit the ability of Huawei and its employees to participate in the editorial process for publishing research papers.

“IEEE complies with U.S. government regulations [the export ban], which 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 statement read.

IEEE, headquartered in New Jersey, has more than 422,000 members in more than 160 countries. It publishes about 200 transactions, journals, and magazines.

On May 15, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei and its 68 affiliates to its “Entity List,” effectively preventing U.S. organizations and firms from doing business with the Chinese tech giant—unless the companies apply for and are granted a license to sell or transfer any U.S. products and technologies.

Since the U.S. action, several prominent companies around the world have severed ties with Huawei, including Google, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Intel, UK-based chip designer ARM, and German chipmaker Infineon Technologies.

The IEEE statement said that compliance with the U.S. export ban would have “minimal impact” on its members around the world. It added that Huawei and its employees can still enjoy some IEEE benefits as members, including accessing the organization’s digital library and submitting technical papers for publication.

Prior to the official statement, an IEEE email to its editors had circulated on social media on May 28.

In the email, IEEE advised the email recipients to stop using Huawei staff as reviewers or editors during the peer-review process for IEEE journals, while warning of possibly “severe legal implications.” Several Chinese professors who were recipients of the email confirmed its authenticity to Chinese media. News of the Huawei exclusion was a trending topic across Chinese social media.

Huawei has worked closely with IEEE, which also sets global industry standards for advanced fields such as 5G and artificial intelligence. Any setback in cooperation is likely to hinder the Chinese tech giant’s tech ambitions, given its prior record of dominating and lobbying standards-setting bodies in order to gain an outsized say in whose technology gets to become the global standard.

For example, in January, Huawei hosted an IEEE working group meeting in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, where the company promoted its “smart city” solutions with the goal of having them become the global industry standard.

In August 2018, Huawei and IEEE held a joint celebration when the global standard for medium-frequency communication in smart grid applications was published.

Meanwhile, China’s state-run mouthpiece Global Times took its usual nationalistic tone in its three reports published in response to the IEEE’s decision.

One report said that Zhang Haixia, a professor in electronics and computer engineering at Peking University, resigned in protest from her positions on the editorial boards of two IEEE journals.

In another Global Times article, Sun Jinbo, the founder of Hisky Medical Corp., a maker of health diagnostic equipment based in Wuxi City in Jiangsu Province, said IEEE’s decision is a reflection of “the hidden hegemony of Western academia, which now has the potential to become an open ban.”

Several other major standards-setting bodies have also reportedly shunned Huawei, including Wi-Fi Alliance, the organization that sets standards for wireless technology.

This article previously misstated the number of Huawei affiliate companies that are under the U.S. export ban. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer