China on Friday called on India to provide an open and transparent investment environment for its telecom companies, even as the ruling Communist Party's official media strongly hit out at the Government of India for carrying out an “under the table” and “unfair” competition against the Chinese industry.
Commerce Minister Chen Deming said they were looking into reports that 25 Chinese companies were among the 26 telecom equipment vendors reportedly “black-listed” by the India because of security concerns.
“We have noticed the list [of blacklisted companies] and are making investigations,” he told the official Xinhua news agency. “We hope India will provide a fair, open and transparent investment environment for Chinese companies.”
China would “investigate through normal channels between the two governments, and communicate and negotiate with the Indian side after making the facts clear.”
China's official media, often a close barometer of the ruling Communist Party's position on issues, took a much harder line, publishing seemingly coordinated articles in several of its official publications on Friday, attacking the Indian government for the reported ban.
The Global Times, an English language newspaper, accused the Indian government of “raising a big stick” against Chinese companies and using “under the table” measures to gain an unfair advantage over Chinese industry.”
“What [Prime Minister Manmohan] Singh's administration has been doing is a disappointment,” the influential newspaper said in an editorial.
“India should realise that it is unwise and impossible to try to contain the growth of its neighbour.”
“Trust not returned”
The newspaper went as far as blaming India for most disputes between the two countries. It said while China respected India “as an admirable Asian neighbour,” India “has not reciprocated with due respect or trust.” “Most disputes in recent years have started with suspicion or hostility on the Indian side, and China was forced to respond,” the editorial said.
The People's Daily, the ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, blamed western companies for being behind the ban. “Products provided by Chinese companies are not worse than those made by western companies and are sold at lower prices. With cooperation, they will benefit consumers in India,” the paper said.
Friday's comments were the strongest yet from the Chinese government on the telecom ban. The government has, so far, cautiously responded to the ban — which has strained trade relations between the two countries — against a backdrop of warming ties.
Indian officials played down the Chinese media criticism, acknowledging that lack of uniformity in the country's telecom policy had created problems for Chinese firms and it was in the process of being rectified soon.
The comments come three days after National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon left Beijing. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi raised the telecom issue in talks on Sunday, during which Mr. Menon assured the Chinese leadership that the ban was not a China-related issue.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr. Menon said: “An open, transparent and non-discriminatory system will be in place very soon,” though officials have, as yet, not specified a time frame. Mr. Menon stressed that the ban was not country-specific, though the reported black-list contained only one non-Chinese company.
Overseas concerns too
Concerns over Chinese telecom equipment, not only in India, have prompted telecom companies in China to re-evaluate their strategies for going overseas.
Reports on Friday said Chinese telecom giant Huawei, which is under the scanner in India, also faced the prospect of losing out on a bid to sell equipment for a major United States mobile operator because of security concerns in Washington. Even in 2008, Huawei lost a $2.2-billion bid for a U.S. firm on security grounds.
Huo Jianguo, dean of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said overseas concerns over Chinese firms, many of which have unclear ties to the government, necessitated a rethink on the way Chinese companies went about overseas acquisitions.
“In the future, we need to take a more cautious strategy, with refined market analysis, when we enter new markets,” he told The People's Daily. “Focusing on raising market share in the short-run can easily cause concerns, and should not be the strategy.”