A new report tying Huawei to North Korea could flare up tensions with the US again

  • The Washington Post has obtained leaked Huawei documents from an eight-year time span showing the company worked on setting up wireless networks in North Korea.
  • The documents show Huawei worked in partnership with a state-owned Chinese company called Panda International, which the US Department of Commerce sanctioned in 2014.
  • The revelation of the documents is likely to reignite tensions between Huawei and the Trump administration.
  • A Huawei spokesman told The Post the company had “no business presence” in North Korea but didn’t address whether the company had worked there in the past.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Internal Huawei documents leaked to The Washington Post could spell trouble for the company, as they show Huawei worked with North Korea setting up its wireless network possibly in violation of US sanctions.

Documents provided to The Post by a former Huawei employee, along with multiple sources with knowledge of the matter, showed Huawei entered a partnership with a Chinese state-owned firm called Panda International Information Technology Co. Ltd. The documents span at least eight years going back to 2008 and detail numerous projects. Countries sanctioned by the US such as North Korea, Iran, and Syria, are referred to using code. North Korea is referred to as “A9.”

The documents put Huawei at risk of further US punishment, as the Department of Commerce placed a ban on the export of US-made equipment to Panda in 2014 over accusations it had provided such equipment to the Chinese military “and/or” sanctioned countries. Any company providing Panda with a minimum of 10% US-made kit would be in violation of the ban.


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A Huawei spokeswoman referred Business Insider to a statement provided to The Post that said Huawei “has no business presence” in North Korea. The Post said the statement did not address whether the company had worked with the country in the past.

Huawei is at the heart of a geopolitical firefight between the US and China, and it was blacklisted by the Department of Commerce in May after being deemed a national security threat. The US has expressed concern that Huawei might provide technological backdoors for the Chinese government to spy. Huawei denies this.

More recently it seemed as if President Donald Trump might be letting up on Huawei. At the G20 summit last month Trump said he was easing the ban on Huawei, allowing US companies to sell to the company – though subsequently Reuters reported that the Commerce Department had told its staff to still treat Huawei as blacklisted.

The Post’s report is bound to spark tensions between Huawei and the Trump administration once more, especially on the subject of sanctions. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of CEO Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in December last year and charged with breaking US sanctions on Iran.

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