MIT severs links with Huawei, ZTE due to US investigations

The elite college "is not accepting new engagements or renewing existing ones" with the Chinese companies.

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MIT is cutting ties with Huawei and ZTE.

Yiming Chen via Getty

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Wednesday joined other colleges in cutting ties with Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE while the government investigates them.

Maria Zuber, vice president for research at Cambridge, Massachusetts, college, revealed the decision in a letter outlining its new review process for "elevated-risk" international projects.

"MIT is not accepting new engagements or renewing existing ones with Huawei and ZTE or their respective subsidiaries due to federal investigations regarding violations of sanction restrictions," she wrote. "The Institute will revisit collaborations with these entities as circumstances dictate."

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The letter also notes that collaborations with China, Russia and Saudi Arabia -- countries that have strained relationships with the US -- would be subject to additional review.

Both ZTE and Huawei have been subject to US scrutiny for working with the Chinese government and potentially using their equipment to spy on Americans.

In January, the Justice Department hit Huawei with 23 charges pertaining to the theft of intellectual property, obstruction of justice and fraud related to its alleged evasion of US sanctions against Iran.

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MIT's move follows several other major colleges dropping equipment from Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese suppliers in response to President Donald Trump signing the National Defense Authorization Act last August -- a provision of the act bans federal funding recipients from using equipment from certain companies.

Neither Huawei nor ZTE immediately responded to requests for comment.

First published at 4:23 a.m. PT.
Updated at 4:54 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.