Huawei may have helped North Korea build a wireless network

Huawei building
Documents showed that Huawei had partnered with Panda International Information Technology, a state-owned firm in China, on projects for N. Korea. (FierceElectronics)

The Washington Post today reported that it had obtained internal documents from Huawei that indicated the Chinese telecom vendor had helped the government of North Korea build and operate its commercial wireless network in secret.

The documents were given to the Washington Post by unidentified sources that included one former Huawei employee, who wished to remain anonymous due to concerns about retribution. The documents showed that over the past eight years, Huawei had partnered with Panda International Information Technology, a state-owned firm in China, on numerous projects.

The documents indicate that Huawei, which has used U.S.-made technology in its components, provided North Korea with equipment, in violation of current U.S. export regulations. Links between Huawei and North Korea have been the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Commerce Department since 2016.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice has charged the Chinese company with bank fraud, in addition to violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran. Huawei has pleaded not guilty.

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Huawei issued a statement saying that it did not have a business presence in North Korea, and that it was in compliance with all of the legal and regulatory requirements of the countries with which it does business.

“Huawei is fully committed to comply with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate, including all export control and sanction laws and regulations,” the statement said.

Spokesman Joe Kelly did not answer specific questions from the press. These questions pertained to Huawei’s past business presence in North Korea and the authenticity of the documents implicating the company. A representative for Panda Group, the parent company of Panda International, declined the Washington Post‘s request for comment.