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The PLA has a “multifaceted role as an important customer, as well as Huawei’s political patron and research and development partner,” according to a 2005 analysis by the Rand Corp. think tank.

Although a multibillion-dollar enterprise, the company is privately held. It says on its website that more than 90 percent of its shares are owned by employees through a special union run by elected representatives of the work force.

David M. Webb, a retired investment banker in Hong Kong who is now an independent consultant on corporate governance issues, has called the ownership structure “completely opaque.”