Chinese tech giant Huawei secretly funds research in America despite being blacklisted . The cutting-edge research takes place at universities including Harvard, and the money is channeled through an independent research foundation based in Washington, along with a competition for scientists.

Bloomberg found that Huawei is the only research funding competition that has awarded millions of dollars since 2022 and attracted hundreds of proposals from scientists. Some of these scientists are at top American universities that have banned researchers from working with the company.

What’s the big deal? The fear is that this research could lead to innovations that give China an edge in both defense contracting and commercial interests, according to Kevin Wolff, a partner at the law firm Akin, which specializes in export controls. Optica, the foundation behind it all, has posted online that he is interested in “highly sensitive optical sensors and detectors,” among other categories of research.

“It looks bad for a prestigious research foundation to anonymously accept money from a Chinese company that raises so many national security concerns for the U.S. government,” said James Mulvenon, a defense contractor who has worked on research security issues and co-authored several books on industrial espionage.

It is worth noting that this money-laundering operation does not appear to be illegal, as research intended for publication is not covered by the ban. Huawei runs similar competitions in other parts of the world, albeit openly. People who participated in the US-based research competition didn’t even know Huawei was participating, believing the money was coming from Optica. The competition awards $1 million a year, and Optica has given no indication that Huawei is supplying the money.

That’s what a Huawei spokesperson said Bloomberg that the company and the Optica Foundation created the competition to support global research and promote academic communication, saying they remain anonymous so as not to be perceived as a promotion of any kind. Optica’s CEO, Liz Rogan, said in a statement that many foundation donors “prefer to remain anonymous” and that “there is nothing unusual about this practice.” She also said that the entire board was aware of Huawei’s involvement and that they had all signed off on it. Bloomberg noted that the Huawei-backed contest is the only one on Optica’s website that does not list individual and corporate financial sponsors.

For the past few years, Huawei has been enmeshed in a web of US restrictions. , as the company is effectively banned. It all started in 2019 when President Trump which pose “unacceptable” risks to national security. Trump said at the time that it was “foreign adversaries” who would ultimately lead to “potentially catastrophic effects.” Wait, Trump used the words “potentially catastrophic effects?” Wild.

To this end, the company has faced numerous allegations that it is out to steal data, although there is no evidence of actual theft and the company denies the allegations. Huawei has also been accused of influencing an investigation, and the documents appear to point to that.

Some expected President Biden to rescind Trump’s executive order, but he went in the opposite direction. Not only does the order remain in place, but Biden from obtaining an FCC license and he in China’s high-tech industries. We won’t be coming to terms with China anytime soon, so Huawei will continue to be persona non grata on this side of the pond (the company still has a thriving business in Europe.)