A Chinese telecommunications firm accused by the U.S. of being a national security menace reportedly secretly helped North Korea construct its 3G wireless community — even while tough international sanctions were squeezing the Hermit Kingdom.
Huawei Technologies Co. worked with Chinese state-owned agency Panda International to supply the Hermit Kingdom with antennas, stations and different materials needed to launch Koryolink – its industrial wireless network – in 2008, the Washington Post reported.
The newspaper, citing internal documents it obtained and conversations with people familiar with the matter, reported that Panda International had a contract with Huawei in which Panda would transport Huawei’s telecom tools to Dandong – a Chinese-North Korea border town – where it might then be placed on trains and delivered by rail to Pyongyang.
That agreement, the newspaper adds, came after then-leader Kim Jong Il secretly visited Huawei’s headquarters in China in 2006.
The Washington Post reports that, for years, staff from both firms worked out of a cheap hotel near Kim Il Sung Square within the North Korean capital. Huawei, it added, additionally provided “managed service” of the network. And one current Huawei employee informed the newspaper that he worked in 2012 and 2013 on Koryolink’s automated callback system.
Those familiar with the operations informed the Washington Post both corporations left Pyongyang in 2016 as efforts increased to position harsher international sanctions on North Korea because of its nuclear program and human rights abuses.
Today, the corporate claims it “has no business presence” in North Korea.
“Huawei is committed to complying with all relevant laws and rules within the countries and regions where we operate, together with all export control and sanction laws and regulations,” a spokesperson informed the Washington Post.