When asked about a report that Chinese telecom giant Huawei had secretly helped build and maintain North Korea’s commercial wireless network, President Donald Trump said on July 22 that “we’ll have to find out.”
The Washington Post reported on July 22 that Huawei 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.
Sources briefed on the matter 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 U.S. technology in its components, violated American export controls to furnish North Korea with equipment.
U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in a statement July 22 said the revelations “underscores [Huawei’s] ties to North Korea and its serial violations of U.S. law.”
Meanwhile, Trump is expected to make an appearance at a meeting on July 22 between White House officials and top U.S. technology companies to discuss Huawei and other economic issues, Reuters reported on July 22, citing two unnamed sources briefed on the matter.
The CEOs of Intel Corp and Broadcom Inc, along with executives from Google and Micron Technology Inc, are due to attend the meeting presided over by White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow, Reuters reported.
The U.S. administration put Huawei, the world’s largest telecom gear maker, on a trade blacklist in May, citing national security concerns. The move barred U.S. firms from supplying technology to the company without a license.
The United States has voiced strong concern that Huawei’s equipment could be used by Beijing for spying or to disrupt communication networks, citing the company’s deep ties to the regime’s military and intelligence agencies. In addition, China’s national security laws require companies to cooperate with intelligence services when asked.
Last month Trump said some U.S. companies could resume sales to the company, as part of his agreement with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to restart trade talks while at the G-20 in Japan.
Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross has said licenses would be issued where there is no threat to national security.
Reuters contributed to this report.