Huawei scan­dal won’t af­fect UBC re­search deal

Vancouver Sun - - NEWS - DER­RICK PEN­NER de­pen­[email protected]­ Twit­­rick­pen­ner With files from the Fi­nan­cial Post

The Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia has had a re­search re­la­tion­ship with Chi­nese tele­com gi­ant Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co. since 2011 and the ar­rest of the com­pany’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer in Van­cou­ver last week won’t change that, the univer­sity said.

UBC and Huawei ce­mented the lat­est ver­sion of their ap­plied re­search part­ner­ship in Oc­to­ber 2017 when univer­sity pres­i­dent Santa Ono and Huawei Cana­dian ex­ec­u­tive Chris­tian Chua signed a frame­work agree­ment worth up to $3 mil­lion over three years.

On Thurs­day, UBC said it “is not aware of any re­stric­tions re­gard­ing work­ing with Huawei and will con­tinue with its part­ner­ship with Huawei,” ac­cord­ing to an emailed state­ment from UBC vice-pres­i­dent of re­search and in­no­va­tion Gail Mur­phy.

Mur­phy also said UBC had no com­ment on “re­cent re­ports of le­gal pro­ceed­ings against a Huawei em­ployee,” who is Meng Wanzhou, the com­pany ’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer and daugh­ter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei.

Meng, who also goes by the name Sab­rina Meng, was ar­rested at Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port Dec. 1 on an ex­tra­di­tion re­quest from the United States re­lated to al­le­ga­tions that she vi­o­lated Amer­i­can trade sanc­tions against Iran.

Huawei’s work in Canada, how­ever, in­cludes de­vel­op­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty for next-gen­er­a­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment through re­search part­ner­ships, such as the one with UBC.

Mur­phy de­scribed UBC’s ar­range­ment with Huawei as ap­plied re­search, which is where com­pa­nies and or­ga­ni­za­tions spon­sor re­searchers in projects that solve problems.

“Part­ner­ing with Cana­dian and global com­pa­nies pro­vides UBC grad­u­ate stu­dents with the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with in­dus­try and re­searchers with valu­able fund­ing to ad­vance their sci­ence,” Mur­phy said in her state­ment.

In sign­ing the lat­est three-year deal with UBC in 2017, Huawei boasted that it would spend more than $10 mil­lion that year on re­search projects at schools in­clud­ing the Univer­sity of Toronto, Univer­sity of Water­loo and École Polytech­nique in Mon­treal.

At UBC, Chua called the univer­sity “a crit­i­cal part of Van­cou­ver and B.C.’s (in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy) in­fra­struc­ture,” where Huawei was com­mit­ted to re­search ini­tia­tives in the new 5G gen­er­a­tion of wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

5G is the evo­lu­tion of mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions that will have the ca­pac­ity to han­dle ar­ti­fi­cial­in­tel­li­gence ap­pli­ca­tions such as driver­less cars and other au­ton­o­mous equip­ment.

Huawei has been a con­tro­ver­sial en­tity in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions. The United States, Aus­tralia and New Zealand have barred Huawei equip­ment from be­ing used in de­vel­op­ment of 5G net­works in those coun­tries over fears China could use it for in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing or cy­ber at­tacks.

Canada has not barred Huawei, and com­pa­nies such as Telus Corp. and Bell Canada have part­nered with the com­pany to test 5G tech­nolo­gies, al­though they don’t use its equip­ment in their core net­works for se­cu­rity rea­sons.

In her state­ment, Mur­phy said UBC’s univer­sity in­dus­try li­ai­son of­fice drafts and ad­min­is­ters its re­search agree­ments to make sure in­dus­try-spon­sored re­search abides by UBC’s core val­ues and com­plies with le­gal re­stric­tions on work­ing with for­eign com­pa­nies.


Chi­nese tele­com gi­ant Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co. has had an ap­plied re­search part­ner­ship with UBC since 2011.


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