Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. secretly helped North Korea build and maintain its commercial wireless network, the Washington Post reported on Monday, citing sources and internal documents.
The Chinese telecommunications giant partnered with a state-owned Chinese firm, Panda International Information Technology Co. Ltd., on a number of projects in North Korea over at least eight years, the Post reported.
Asked about the report, US President Donald Trump said on Monday, “We will have to find out.”
In a meeting with the heads of top technology companies, meanwhile, Trump agreed to make “timely” decisions on requests by US firms to sell to blacklisted Huawei.
“The CEOs expressed strong support of the President’s policies, including national security restrictions on United States telecom equipment purchases and sales to Huawei,” a White House statement said.
“They requested timely licensing decisions from the Department of Commerce, and the President agreed,” it said.
Earlier, sources confirmed the Commerce Department has been investigating Huawei since 2016 and is reviewing whether the company violated export control rules in relation to sanctions on North Korea.
Such a move would raise questions of whether Huawei, which has used US technology in its components, violated American export controls to furnish North Korea with equipment.
Senators Chris Van Hollen and Tom Cotton said a statement the “revelation underscores [Huawei’s] ties to North Korea and its serial violations of US law”.
They noted that a defense reauthorization bill under consideration in Congress contains new “provisions to better enforce sanctions on Pyongyang by making it clear that any company that does business with North Korea – like Huawei reportedly did – will face American sanctions”.
The United States put Huawei on a blacklist in May, citing national security concerns. The move banned US companies from selling most US parts and components to Huawei without special licenses but Trump said last month American firms could resume sales in a bid to restart trade talks with Beijing.
Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in a statement to the Washington Post it had “no business presence” in North Korea. It was not immediately possible to reach the Panda Group.
Huawei and Panda vacated their Pyongyang office in the first half of 2016, the newspaper reported.
In Ottawa, Huawei’s Canadian unit sought to distance itself from the actions of the Chinese government on Monday, with a top local executive saying the company is worried about two Canadian men being held by Beijing.
Canada’s arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou – the daughter of the company’s founder – stands at the heart of months of tensions between the two countries.
After she was picked up in Vancouver on a US arrest warrant, China detained two Canadian men and later charged them with spying.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned the arrests and several Canadian allies, including the United States, are calling for their release.
“Obviously we’re concerned, like all Canadians are concerned, about their well-being,” Huawei Canada’s vice president of corporate affairs Alykhan Velshi said when asked about the two men being held in China.
“This is a time of real tension between Canada and China, and it can only be solved by governments,” Velshi told reporters in Ottawa, after announcing a partnership to furnish high-speed 4G Internet to isolated communities in Canada’s Far North. Reuters
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