What just happened? Huawei is all over the news these days, and for unfortunate reasons. The latest involves having its scientists barred from peer reviewing and editing publications on IEEE, a globally recognized institute in the technical industry and academia with more than 420,000 members. Citing legal implications, the organization assured that its compliance with the US trade restrictions will have minimal impact on its members around the world.
In a detailed statement issued earlier this week, the New-York based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers banned Huawei employees from reviewing or editing scientific papers. The organization, which functions as an open, non-political platform for scientists around the world, took this decision to comply with US laws to protect itself, its volunteers and members from any legal repercussions of the US trade restrictions targeting Huawei's businesses.
"As a result, we cannot use colleagues from Huawei as reviewers or Editors for the peer-review process of our journals [...] If we continue to do so, this may have severe legal implications." the organization wrote in a statement to its editors-in-chief, screenshots of which initially made rounds in China.
Unbelievable, IEEE is forced to ban Huawei employees from peer-reviewing papers or handling papers as editors. pic.twitter.com/pkvQeOUI07— Junhui Qian (@qian_junhui) May 29, 2019
IEEE assured that despite the ban, its compliance with US trade restrictions should have minimal impact on its members around the world. Huawei and its employees can continue participation in other activities such as acquiring individual and corporate memberships and voting rights, submitting technical papers for publication, accessing the IEEE digital library, presenting at IEEE sponsored meetings and conferences, and accepting IEEE awards.
The decision faced backlash from a number of Chinese professors seeing it as an interference of politics in academic development and collaboration. Professor Haixia Zhang, from the School of Electronic and Computer Engineering at China's Peking University, announced her resignation from IEEE boards in protest.
"This is Haixia Zhang from Peking University, as an old friend and senior IEEE member, I am really shocked to hear that IEEE is involved in “US-Huawei Ban” for replacing all reviewers from Huawei, which is far beyond the basic line of Science and Technology which I was trainedand am following in my professional career till now."
"...But, today, this message from IEEE for “replacing all reviewers from Huawei in IEEE journals” is challenging my professional integrity. I have to say that, As a professor, I AM NOT accept this. Therefore, I decided to quit from IEEE NANO and IEEE JMEMS editorial board untill one day it come back to our common professional integrity."
How the rest of the academia and scientific bodies respond remains to be seen but as the US tightens its noose around Huawei, the global tech landscape is likely going to experience more changes because of the trade war between the two countries.