United States government restrictions on Huawei are generating ripple effects that have gone beyond commercial circles and are now entering academia.
On Wednesday, Qbitai.com reported that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest technical professional organization, has banned Huawei employees from peer-reviewing its research papers. The move follows the US restrictions on Huawei that forbid the Chinese firm from accessing US technology without special government approval.
Qbitai published screenshots of emails that the IEEE sent to its members, detailing that Huawei colleagues can’t peer-review any papers until restrictions on the company are removed.
The US accused Huawei of posing risks to its national security. Huawei has repeatedly denied the accusations and said the charges were not supported by factual evidence.
Huawei and the IEEE did not immediately reply to requests for comment, but such reports have triggered opposition from Chinese academic circles and netizens.
Zhang Haixia, a professor at Peking University and a 20-year IEEE member, expressed her strong opposition in an open letter on Wednesday and said she decided to step down from editorial boards at the IEEE.
“As an old friend and senior IEEE member, I’m really shocked to hear that the IEEE is involved in the US’ Huawei ban by replacing all reviewers from Huawei, which is far beyond the basic line of science and technology,” she wrote in the letter.
“During the past 20 years, I worked together with many scientists, like you, in IEEE societies, journals, conferences and events because we all believe that the IEEE is an international society, and doesn’t belong just to the US or some other parties,” Zhang wrote.
“But, today, this message from the IEEE about replacing all reviewers from Huawei in IEEE journals challenges my professional integrity. I have to say that, as a professor, I don’t accept this. Therefore, I have decided to quit from IEEE editorial boards until it returns to professional integrity.”
Zhang confirmed to China Daily that some of her friends in the US have received such emails from the IEEE. She said she believed that the IEEE made such a decision because of external pressure or for political reasons.
“They (the IEEE) didn’t openly issue the ban, because it’s a shame,” she said. “This not only crosses my own bottom line, but also that of scientists in China and around the world.”
Xiang Ligang, director-general of the telecom industry association Information Consumption Alliance, said the move shows that the US restrictions on Huawei harm global scientific cooperation.
Chinese netizens also expressed strong opposition to the IEEE move. A netizen named Ta said: “Such a practice defies all logic. When nobody challenges the US, science has no boundaries; but when somebody does, science is the US weapon against others.”