Leaked docs allege Huawei helped build North Korea's 3G wireless networks: Report

The documents were leaked by a former Huawei employee.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

Huawei reportedly helped build North Korea's commercial 3G wireless network, according to internal documents leaked by a former employee.

The documents obtained by The Washington Post-- which includes past work orders, contracts, and spreadsheets -- allegedly reveal that Huawei partnered with a Chinese state-owned firm, Panda International Information Technology, on a variety of projects across eight years that focused on building and maintaining a 3G commercial wireless network in North Korea.

In this partnership, Huawei reportedly used Panda International Information Technology to send networking equipment to North Korea that was then used to build the country's 3G network. 

The former Huawei employee reportedly provided the documents as they "considered the information to be of public interest", WaPo said.

These documents were originally stored on a Huawei database that had information about the company's global telco operations, according to the report.

In the internal documents, Huawei referred to certain countries, such as North Korea, Iran, and Syria, by code for confidentiality reasons. North Korea was listed as "A9" in the database's spreadsheets.

In light of the internal documents being released, a Huawei spokesperson told ZDNet in an emailed statement that the company currently has "no business presence" in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. 

"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 of the UN, US, and EU," the Huawei spokesperson added. 

See also: Huawei CFO extradition hearing set for January 2020

Huawei -- which uses US parts in its technology -- may have violated US export sanctions which ban the sale of US components to North Korea. North Korea is also currently subject to international sanctions over its nuclear regime and human rights violations. 

Huawei is already facing a 13-count indictment from the US for allegedly misrepresenting Huawei's ownership and control of Iranian affiliate Skycom to banks, which breached UN, US, and EU sanctions for financial services. The US also issued a separate 10-count indictment that accuses Huawei of stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile.

The release of these internal documents comes at a time when various Western countries are considering whether to ban Huawei's equipment from their respective 5G rollouts. Countries like the UK are still yet to make a decision on whether to ban Huawei equipment from its 5G networks. This is despite all of the UK's main telcos already using equipment from Huawei in their 5G rollouts.
Meanwhile, Huawei's telco equipment is already banned from participating in 5G rollouts in Australia and Japan, with the countries citing that Huawei is likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from Beijing. 

In the United States, President Donald Trump signed an executive order in May to ban US companies from buying, installing, or using foreign-made telecommunications equipment, citing cyber-espionage fears. The ban effectively targets Chinese equipment providers like Huawei, although no names are mentioned in the executive order's text. 

However, it is unclear what the current trade status is between the US and Huawei, with Trump saying last month that he would ease up on the ban. Following the president's remarks, the Commerce Department said it would keep Huawei on the list but "issue licenses where there is no threat to US national security". 

Last month, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei said he expected the company would drop $30 billion of revenue from its forecast due to the ongoing trade war with the United States.  


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