Who are the victims of the blistering trade war between the US and China? Of course US importers, hordes of Chinese firms and market participants across the world. But the blacklisting of Huawei by President Donald Trump showed the entente has many more levels.
Even as Huawei is reeling from the impact, the latest reports also show that regular workers are also caught in the crossfire. A move by the world's biggest technical professional organisation shows that even high profile employees from the banned or blacklisted companies can become pariahs overnight.
New York-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has decided to ban employees of Huawei from participating in the peer review of research papers.
Chinese social media platforms are seething in anger over the move, which singles out employees of a company. The Chinese are accusing the US and organisations in its influence of "violating academic freedom' and being anti-science", the South China Morning Post reported.
The IEEE move goes far beyond the basic line of science and technology and challenges the professional integrity of the employees, said Zhang Haixia, a professor with the Institute of Microelectronics at Peking University.
IEEE defends it s decision saying it needs to comply with legal obligations under the laws of the US. Huawei, the Chinese telecommunication giant at the centre of the controversy, said it did not have any comment on the development.
Sanctions and threat of blacklisting have been par for the course in the China-US trade stalemate over the years but Donald Trump took a leap into unfamiliar terrain by giving teeth to the existing US provisions when he announced the blacklisting of Huawei.
National security threat
The Chinese company, even as it smarted under the whipping from the US, suddenly realised that global behemoths like Google, Microsoft, Intel and Qualcomm followed through, enforcing a suspension of business dealings with the Chinese company.
With the latest reports it's clear that professionals are also becoming the collateral damage.
Trump signed an executive order two weeks ago to bar US firms from installing the foreign-made telecom equipment which poses a national security threat. China threatened retaliation, saying it will defend rights and interests of its companies. The clampdown on Huawei came at a time when the trade war between two of the world's largest economies had reached a high point.