Oxford University is suspending research grants and funding donations from Huawei amid growing security concerns about the Chinese firm’s telecommunication technology.
Existing research contracts already received or committed with Huawei will go ahead, but the university will not pursue new funding opportunities with the company.
There are two ongoing projects in which Huawei has committed £692 000 (R12.3-million), the university said.
“Oxford University decided on 8 January this year that it will not pursue new funding opportunities with Huawei Technologies or its related group companies at present,” an Oxford University spokesman said in a statement.
We were not informed of this decision and await the university’s full explanation
“Huawei has been notified of the decision, which the university will keep under review. The decision applies both to the funding of research contracts and of philanthropic donations.
“The decision has been taken in the light of 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 university will continue with existing research contracts where funding from Huawei has already been received or committed. We currently have two such ongoing projects, with a combined funding from Huawei of £692 000. Both projects were approved under the university’s regulatory processes before the current levels of uncertainty arose.”
Huawei’s latest setback in the West comes after UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson said he had “very deep concerns” about the Chinese company’s involvement in the UK’s roll-out of 5G.
In December, the head of MI6, Alex Younger, said the UK would have to make “some decisions” about such firms after other governments had taken steps to block Huawei.
Huawei was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former officer in the People’s Liberation Army, leading to questions about possible improper links to the Chinese state, something Huawei has always denied.
As a private, employee-owned technology company, with a strong track record in R&D we believe partnership decisions should, like research, be evidence based
Zhengfei carried out a rare interview earlier this week in which he was quoted as saying he had never been asked to share “improper information”.
Huawei has partnered with a number of UK universities on academic research in recent years, including the University of Surrey, the University of Cambridge, the University of Manchester and Imperial College London.
A Huawei spokeswoman said: “We were not informed of this decision and await the university’s full explanation. As a private, employee-owned technology company, with a strong track record in R&D we believe partnership decisions should, like research, be evidence based.
“We have operated in the UK since 2001, employ 1 500 people here and have long standing collaborations with 20 other UK universities, working with them to research the technologies of the future.”