IEEE Lifts Ban on Huawei Employees

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) released a statement on June 3, stating that employees of Huawei Technologies and its subsidiaries would be allowed to participate in peer reviews for its research papers, lifting the previously imposed ban following U.S. sanctions.

The U.S.-based engineering association banned Huawei scientists from reviewing papers last week, so long as the trade restrictions are in place. “There are ‘severe legal implications’ from allowing the Chinese company’s staff to look at technical research,” IEEE said last week.

IEEE has since asked the U.S. Department of Commerce for clarification on the applicability of these export control restrictions to IEEE’s publication activities. After clarification, IEEE lifted the restrictions.

“Our initial, more restrictive approach was motivated solely by our desire to protect our volunteers and our members from legal risk,” IEEE said in its statement. “With the clarification received, this risk has been addressed.”

The restrictions placed on Huawei were met with backlash from Chinese social media, as well as other professional computer research bodies. The Beijing-based China Computer Federation (CCF) said in a statement last Thursday, hours after the ban incurred by IEEE, that it would suspend “its communication and collaboration” with the New York-based IEEE.

Other related bodies showed strong support for open and equal opportunities in academic research. The annual computer conference body CVPR (Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition) released an open letter on Twitter and mentioned that Huawei is a major participant at CVPR. It added, “IEEE’s interpretation of these restrictions affects only whether members of listed companies may review papers. Participation in our public meetings is not affected.”

“All IEEE members, regardless of employer, can continue to participate in all of the activities of the IEEE,” IEEE’s statement also said.

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