Oxford University will suspend all new research grants and donations from Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant accused of posing national security threats around the world. In an email sent to its computer science doctoral students, the university said the Committee to Review Donations – part of the university’s Council Secretariat – made the decision last week. “The [committee] met last week and have decided to suspend Huawei as an approved gift donor/research sponsor,” it said. “This decision will be revisited by the committee in 3-6 months and does not impact existing donations or research projects which have already been agreed and signed, and are in progress.” The university and Huawei’s media team in Britain did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday. It was not clear if the email was also sent to students in other departments. But it did say the recipients could continue contact with the company. “If you are in contact with anyone from Huawei, do note that this decision doesn’t prevent you from maintaining a relationship with them but we would recommend that no confidential or proprietary information is discussed,” it said. Huawei is the target of a host of investigations in the United States. The US is seeking the extradition from Canada of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, over alleged violations of US sanctions on Iran, and the company is under scrutiny for allegedly stealing trade secrets from US partner firms including T-Mobile US. Soon after Meng’s arrest in Canada in December, British lawmakers urged the country’s universities to exercise “extreme caution” in accepting funds from Huawei in the face of mounting international concerns over the company’s alleged threat to national security in various countries. Huawei is target of US criminal probe into alleged theft of trade secrets from American firms including T-Mobile Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute and an emeritus fellow of Oxford’s St Antony’s College, rejected suggestions the committee’s decision was in response to the US investigations, or US government policy regarding Huawei. Universities do not want to add companies to any kind of ‘donation blacklist’ … [Oxford] must have good strong prima facie evidence Steve Tsang, emeritus fellow of Oxford’s St Antony’s College Tsang said it was most likely “an independently reached conclusion based on evidence available to the reviewing committee”. “Universities do not want to add companies to any kind of ‘donation blacklist’,” he told the South China Morning Post. “For any major British research university, Oxford included, to decide to suspend a company from being ‘an approved gift donor/research sponsor’, it must have good strong prima facie evidence that not doing so is wrong.” Soon after Meng’s arrest in Canada in December, British lawmakers urged the country’s universities to exercise “extreme caution” in accepting funds from Huawei in the face of mounting international concerns over the company’s alleged threat to national security in various countries. “Day by day, we see more evidence that Chinese companies like Huawei are breaking all the rules and undermining British security,” UK lawmaker Chris Bryant told The Daily Telegraph in December. The head of British spy agency MI6 has also warned of the risks of Chinese influence over British telecoms networks. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said earlier this week that while he supported the Chinese Communist Party, he would “never do anything to harm any other nation”. It is recognised that China’s leading tech companies, even if nominally private, act in various ways as agents of the party and state George Magnus, research associate at Oxford University’s China Centre He also said Huawei would “certainly say no” to any request from China’s government to access data or create back doors to the networks. George Magnus, an economist and research associate at Oxford University’s China Centre, said the academic, business and political worlds were starting to become more aware of the “thin but very important lines between the quest for influence and the pursuit of interference”. “It is recognised that China’s leading tech companies, even if nominally private, act in various ways as agents of the party and state,” Magnus said. “This environment in which Huawei et al work places them and the funding they do in a rather problematic light, and I suspect that a rising universe of institutions will ... be asked to make transparent what sort of funding arrangements exist and with whom.” Huawei has more than 1,400 employees in Britain and, in addition to Oxford, has partnered with the universities of Cambridge, Cardiff, York, Manchester and Edinburgh and Imperial College London. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei on why he joined China’s Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army These universities have so far accepted over US$7.5 million in donations from Huawei for projects such as a 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey and a US$1 million-plus computer lab at Cambridge University. Huawei is one of several global technology giants, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, that have partnered with elite universities and offered research grants in hi-tech fields such as artificial intelligence in recent years. For instance, it awarded one of its partner universities, University of California Berkeley, a US$1 million research grant in 2016 to develop artificial intelligence technologies. US lawmakers seek to ban chip sales to China’s Huawei and ZTE for ‘violating American sanctions’ However, it has come under increasing global scrutiny amid growing security fears that its equipment may be used for Chinese espionage, charges that the company has consistently denied. Britain’s biggest mobile services provider BT announced in December that it would remove some Huawei equipment from its 4G network. Huawei equipment has also been blocked from telecom networks in the US, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. US President Donald Trump is pressuring other countries, including Canada and Germany, to take similar steps.