Calling for India to include Huawei in its 5G trials despite the U.S. government’s opposition to the Chinese telecommunications major, a senior Chinese official said New Delhi must not be “exclusive” in its choice.
“Huawei enjoys cutting edge technologies and I think it will best facilitate India’s realisation of its dream of building a digital economy,” said Yang Yanyi, former diplomat and a current Committee Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the 13th CPCC (Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference) National Committee.
Move to control access
“We need to guard against the attempt of forces in the west to keep control of science [and] technology, and they cannot stomach the fact that developing countries can also excel in technology,” Ms. Yang said. She added that she had full confidence India would take “independent decisions in the best interests of India” and of bilateral relations with China.
The official, who led a delegation to discuss trade issues in Delhi this week, spoke to members of the Delhi-based Indian Association of Foreign Affairs Correspondents (IAFAC) on Monday.
The issue over whether to include Huawei in the 5G trials, which the government has promised to start by September this year, became a centrepiece for talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and both his Chinese and American counterparts during the recently concluded G-20 summit in Osaka. U.S. President Donald Trump, who spoke specifically about Huawei with Mr. Modi, agreed that India and the U.S. must cooperate on research on 5G technologies in the future. During Russia-India-China (RIC) talks subsequently, President Xi also suggested that the three countries “expand cooperation in 5G network, high technology, connectivity, energy and other areas.”
Shortly after being sworn-in as part of the Modi government, Minister of Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that “whether a company is allowed to participate [in the 5G trials] or not is a complex question, including security issues,” indicating that India is yet to take a final call on whether Huawei constituted a security threat.
Officials have been particularly worried about the potential for 5G networks to be used for mass surveillance, as well as the potential for a foreign agency to disrupt systems run by the high-speed, next generation telecom technology, especially from a company like Huawei, that has connections to the Chinese government.
Reacting sharply to the U.S. allegations, Ms. Yang said the Washington “should be ashamed for trying to exert state power to suppress a Chinese company and other companies from developing countries from excelling in [telecommunications]. They have no evidence to prove that there is a security threat, and are working on people’s fears.”
Pointing out that Huawei already employs more than 8,000 Indians at its plant and R&D facilities in India, Mr. Zhu Feng, an academic accompanying Ms. Yang, said Indians “must not overreact” to reports on security threats to India.
When asked about India’s continuing objections to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, primarily over the China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) component running through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), Ms. Yang said India must not allow its bilateral ties with Pakistan to affect ties with China.
“The issue of [PoK] is a historical leftover, and this should be addressed by the two countries through talks. It is illogical to turn India’s Pakistan bilateral problems into a problem between China and India and let this stand in the way of building better ties,” Ms. Yang, suggesting that India’s trilateral cooperation with China on Afghanistan should serve as a template for future cooperation on BRI.