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Huawei’s reported ties to North Korea may ramp up tensions with US

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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 in potential violation of US sanctions.

Documents provided to The Post by a former Huawei employee and multiple sources with knowledge of the matter showed Huawei entered into a partnership with a Chinese state-owned firm Panda International Information Technology Co. Ltd. The documents span at least eight years going back to 2008 and detail a number of 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 punition by the US, as Department of Commerce placed a ban on the export of US-made equipment to Panda in 2014 or allegedly providing kit 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.

Read more: Researchers studied 25,000 leaked Huawei resumes and found troubling links to the government and spies

A Huawei spokeswoman referred Business Insider to a statement provided to the Post which states Huawei “has no business presence” in North Korea, but didn’t address whether the company has worked with the country in the past.

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

More recently it seemed like President Trump might be letting up on Huawei. At the G8 last month Trump said he was easing the ban on Huawei, allowing US companies to sell to the company — although subsequently, Reuters reported 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. Meng Wanzhou, Huawei CFO and 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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