TOKYO -- The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world's largest engineering society, has reversed its decision to bar Huawei Technologies-affiliated scientists from reviewing papers for its roughly 200 journals, a restriction that had sparked outrage in China.
The U.S.-based IEEE said in an email seen by the Nikkei Asian Review that it had "engaged the U.S. government to seek clarification on the extent to which" export controls placed on Huawei applied to IEEE activities.
"This engagement was successful and we have revised our guidance to remove any restriction on the participation of the employees of these companies as editors or peer reviewers in the IEEE publication process," the email, signed by IEEE CEO and President Jose M.F. Moura, continued.
A recent internal statement by the IEEE had issued guidance that barred employees of Huawei or anyone "interacting with" or "directly paid or otherwise sponsored" by the leading Chinese tech company from taking part in peer reviews or the editing process, or attending nonpublic meetings involving technical information.
That move came after the U.S. government placed Huawei on a list of companies requiring special permission to do business with American entities.
On May 29, news of an internal IEEE email ordering the replacement of certain Huawei-affiliated editors and reviewers circulated on Chinese social media, sparking an immediate outcry.
In protest, the China Computer Federation, a Beijing-based academic society and sister association to the IEEE Computer Society, said the following day it would suspend its partnership with IEEE's computer division and advise against its members in China from participating in the activities of the American computer society.
After the IEEE's latest announcement, however, the CCF too reversed its stance. In a statement on June 3, the Beijing-based organization said it will resume its partnership with the IEEE Computer Society and advise members to continue academic interactions and collaboration, as IEEE had decided to return to the "right track."
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei and 68 of its affiliates to the Bureau of Industry Security's Entity List on the grounds that the Chinese company had acted contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests. The designation forces Huawei suppliers to apply for licenses to keep selling to the Chinese company. The suppliers should assume the license application will be denied.
Since the blacklisting took effect, tech companies and organizations have been scrambling to keep up with compliance. A number of major chip suppliers including ARM, Infineon and Toshiba have suspended certain business to Huawei, while standards-setting alliances including the Wi-Fi Alliance, JEDEC and the SD Card Association have restricted the Chinese company's participation, Nikkei has reported.
PCI-SIG, which sets standards for peripheral components in computer hardware, became the latest to do so. On May 30, it told Nikkei that it had "placed Huawei's membership into suspension until the matter is resolved."
The IEEE, which is based in New York, has almost half a million members from more than 160 countries, over half of whom are from outside the U.S., according to the organization's website.
Kevin Wolf, a former U.S. assistant secretary of commerce and partner at law firm Akin Gump, said that materials submitted to journals or conferences with the intention of getting published are not subject by law to export controls.
Nikkei staff writer Lauly Li in Taipei contributed to this story