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‘Mustn’t Serve Our Infrastructure on Platter’: Analyst on Pompeo Endorsing Huawei-Free Reliance Jio

© AFP 2023 / INDRANIL MUKHERJEEA customer selects his number of Reliance Jio Infocomm 4G mobile services in Mumbai on September 6, 2016
A customer selects his number of Reliance Jio Infocomm 4G mobile services in Mumbai on September 6, 2016 - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): The future of 5G-dependent tech infrastructure in India seems lost in uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic as the country was scheduled to conduct its 5G trials at the beginning of this year, but was forced to delay due to the critical global health, economic, and political situation for a year, reports say.

In the aftermath of the intense India-China faceoff in the Ladakh region, the Indian government is deliberating and pulling away from China-partnered multi-million dollar projects at a rapid pace.

At a time like this, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed the Indian telecom company Reliance Jio among some of the "clean telcos" of the world who have kept away from doing business with Chinese companies like Huawei, which Washington considers to be a national security concern.

​US President Donald Trump has often accused Chinese tech players of spying on other nations for classified information, putting national security at risk - an allegation that Beijing and the accused firms have repeatedly denied. Recently, Chinese brands like Xiaomi and TikTok were also traced to be tracking the location and incognito search history of their users in India using illegal means, such as SIM-tapping.

“Most of the developed countries globally have denounced the usage of Chinese telecom provider Huawei, because of several allegations of privacy and data theft by them. We have to understand that when the question comes of national security and Integrity no company can ever be given any amnesty”, Achin Jhaker, a senior cyber security analyst, told Sputnik.

India is still analysing its stance on the involvement of China in the development of India as a whole.

“We need to give it a serious thought and take a firm stand that we will not hand over our infrastructure to them on a platter. More and more nations will keep joining the queue in denouncing such companies. President Trump’s administration yesterday gave a statement that companies like Huawei and Hikvision are directly backed by Chinese military, which makes them all the more dubious”, Jhaker added, while emphasising India’s urgent need to boost manufacturing within the country.

As Pompeo noted, Reliance Jio – India’s largest telecom company owned by Asia’s richest industrialist Mukesh Ambani, has remained “Huawei-free”. Towards the end of 2019, Bharti Airtel also started ditching Huawei equipment for the Swedish tech player Ericsson.

In 2019, amid the US-China trade war, India allowed Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE to participate in its 5G trials despite Washington’s warning of this being a threat to national security.

In June last year, when India was still in its deciding phase on 5G trials, Huawei offered to sign a “no backdoor” agreement with the Indian government. The agreement stipulates a lifetime ban for the Chinese firm in the event of a security breach on its part.

The US has asked India to deny the Chinese firm permission to roll out operations in the country over fears that its telecom equipment could be used for surveillance.

The Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry is to raise duties to curb non-essential imports from China as well as restrict and prohibit certain imports, including milk, milk products, and tyres.

Customs duties have also been increased on 89 items to curb imports such as footwear, toys, furniture, and pressure vessels.

On 23 June, one day after it shelved the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) secretariat's offer to join the trade bloc unconditionally, India deployed policies to curb Chinese imports, the media reported, citing government sources.

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