Oxford University bans research grants from China's Huawei Technologies

A halt has been placed on new funding but existing financed projects will continue

Queen's College, Oxford University

Queen's College, Oxford University (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Amid global concerns the Chinese company is breaching national security measures, The U.K.’s Oxford University has halted donations and research grants from Huawei Technologies.

The Guardian reports Oxford announced that the indefinite ban is due to “public concerns raised in recent months surrounding UK partnerships with Huawei.”

“We hope these matters can be resolved shortly and note Huawei’s own willingness to reassure governments about its role and activities,” the newspaper quotes an Oxford representative as saying.

Oxford University currently holds two ongoing research contracts with Huawei, both approved prior to recent revelations that the organization may be involved in national security breaches and espionage activity. The Guardian reports projects reliant on the combined funding of £692,000 (US$897,700) will be seen through, according to the university.

Huawei Technologies is currently under investigation by U.S. federal prosecutors for intellectual properly theft, and U.S. lawmakers have now introduced a bill that could see American electronic chip manufacturers banned from selling their products to Chinese companies.

A number of countries have barred Huawei from participating in the out-building of their fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks, and the European Union is warning governments about potential security risks posed by collaborating with Chinese firms following the arrest of a Huawei employee in Poland charged with espionage.

Members of the British Parliament began expressing concerns regarding university ties to Huawei last year after China arbitrarily arrested two Canadian citizens following the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada. Many universities across the country, and the world, have accepted funding from the organization to recruit students, finance research projects, and build research centers.

One example includes a “5G Innovation Center” at the University of Surrey, which attracted an initial £70 million (US$90.8 million) in investment and is currently the world's largest academic center dedicated to researching next generation wireless connectivity.

The Guardian reports the ban is a logical step for Oxford considering how it was embroiled in dispute in the past for receiving donations from controversial figures, including Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik.

Chinese state media publication The Global Times has accused Western powers of "McCarthyism in high-tech"—"politicizing normal business disputes" to subvert China's power and damage its international reputation.