Last week, over two dozen Republican and Democratic members of Congress, led by Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), sent Education Secretary Betsy DeVos a letter, urging her to investigate a university funding program put forward by Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. In the letter, the lawmakers requested that she collect information from US universities involved in any research partnerships with the company and put together a working group "to understand how the People's Republic of China attempts to gather US technology on US university and college campuses and to develop recommendations (especially for those institutions that receive any kind of federal funding) for protecting the US technology advantage." Now, Reuters reports, Huawei Chairman Eric Xu has called Rubio and Banks "closed-minded and ill-informed."
US lawmakers and government agencies have continued to express concern over Huawei and its potential connections to the Chinese government -- ties the company has repeatedly denied. "China is using Huawei to position themselves to steal American research through so-called 'research partnerships' with American universities to exploit the openness of our system of higher education," Rubio said in a statement. Banks said, "Huawei is a state-directed entity that uses academic surveillance to spy and collect intelligence on America and our allies. Make no mistake, Huawei cannot be trusted and the Department of Education should work closely with the FBI to address China's attempts to infiltrate America's intellectual institutions."
"It seems that their bodies are in the information age but their minds are still in the agrarian age," Xu said about the lawmakers. "Their behavior shows not just an ignorance of how science and innovation works today, but also their own lack of confidence."
Huawei has continued to face pushback from US officials who say the firm represents a security threat to the US. Earlier this year a deal Huawei had with AT&T fell through, reportedly due to political pressure. Verizon and Best Buy also rolled back plans to carry Huawei phones. Google, Twitter and Facebook have faced scruity from lawmakers over partnerships with the firm and the Pentagon has banned the company's phones in US military base retailers. Further, a bill was proposed earlier this year that would prohibit all government agencies from working with Huawei.