IEEE, a major science publisher, bans Huawei scientists from reviewing papers | Science

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IEEE, a major science publisher, bans Huawei scientists from reviewing papers | Science

A major scientific society has banned employees of Huawei, the Chinese communications giant, from reviewing submissions to its journals because of U.S. government sanctions against the company.

The New York City–based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) told editors of its roughly 200 journals yesterday that it feared “severe legal implications” from continuing to use Huawei scientists as reviewers in vetting technical papers. They can continue to serve on IEEE editorial boards, according to the memo, but “cannot handle any papers” until the sanctions are lifted.

On 15 May, the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and its affiliates to a list of companies for which a license is required before U.S. technology can be sold or transferred. The department can refuse to grant such a license, issued by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), if it deems that any sales or transfers would harm U.S. national security interests. U.S. officials have alleged that the Chinese government could use equipment manufactured by Huawei, which is a global supplier of cell phones and wireless data networks, to spy on users or disrupt critical infrastructure.

Huawei scientists can continue to engage in a range of society activities, explains a 22 May IEEE statement to members. They can attend IEEE-sponsored conferences and make presentations, submit articles to IEEE journals, and participate in leadership and governance bodies to which they belong.

What they can’t do as an employee of a company on the BIS entity list is be given access to the type of technical information that would be part of a research article. Specifically, IEEE says they “cannot receive or access materials submitted by other persons until after IEE has accepted the material for publication.” At that point, Huawei scientists “may act as editor or peer reviewer for that material.”

The IEEE ban has sparked outrage among Chinese scientists on social media. “I joined IEEE as a Ph.D. student because it is recognized as an International academic platform in electronics engineering,” wrote Haixia (Alice) Zhang of Peking University in Beijing in a letter to IEEE leadership. “But this message is challenging my professional integrity. I have decided to quit the editorial boards [of two IEEE journals] until it restores our common professional integrity.”

This is a developing story.

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