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India Now At The Centre Of US-China War On Huawei

China has offered to allay Indian security concerns over Chinese telecom giant Huawei on the new 5G technology by offering New Delhi the option of tests at the new Huawei Cyber Security Transparency Centre inaugurated in March this year in the Belgian capital Brussels. But more worryingly, sources told this newspaper that the issue has the potential of escalating into a major flashpoint if New Delhi decides to keep Huawei out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to visit India in October this year for the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and New Delhi does not want the issue to cast a shadow on the summit, sources said.

On American concerns about Huawei’s links with the Chinese government and how India was looking at the issue, it may be recalled the external affairs ministry had recently said New Delhi would take a decision based on Indian “economic and security interests”, and that the matter was being “debated” across the world.

India is expected to take a decision on whether Huawei and its Chinese official links poses any threat to Indian security and strategic interests.

New Delhi’s decision — whenever it is announced — could affect its relations with both China and the United States, which sees India as a close strategic partner. The department of telecommunications is expected to take a final decision soon, and the MEA has already given its inputs on it.

“The offer for tests at the Huawei Centre in Belgium has been made to India,” sources confirmed to this newspaper on Sunday.

Telecom observers note that New Delhi is concerned over the vulnerability of technological systems due to inter-linking in a 5G scenario. There is also concern over militarisation of technologies in a future scenario if ties between the two Asian giants were to suddenly deteriorate in a hypothetical situation.

At this point, there are indications that New Delhi may do the tightrope walk due to the second Sino-Indian informal summit in October. One possible option for India could be to postpone a final decision till after the summit. Another may be to take a swifter decision and offer Huawei some areas in which it can be allowed to play a role.

Huawei had in March 2019 opened its Cyber Security Transparency Centre in Brussels. Interestingly, Ken Hu, Huawei’s deputy chairman, had been quoted as saying then: “Trust needs to be based on facts, facts must be verifiable, and verification must be based on common standards. We believe this is an effective model to build trust for the digital era.” China’s view seems to be that certain interests in the United States are trying to create a global fright on Huawei and that the Chinese company should be given an opportunity to prove there is no cause for concern whatsoever.

Earlier in July, a top Chinese official, Yang Yanyi, a member of the foreign affairs committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, lashed out at attempts (from some quarters in the West) to impose restrictions on Huawei and hoped New Delhi would take an “independent decision” in the best interests of India. “They (vested interests in the US) should feel shame that they use state power to suppress a Chinese company. There is no evidence to prove there is a security threat (from Huawei). We have full confidence that the (Indian) government will make an independent decision in the best interests of India,” Ms Yang, a former head of the Chinese mission to the European Union, said while leading a high-level Chinese delegation including eminent academics to New Delhi on a visit that had included discussions with Indian think tanks.

Incidentally, the issue of 5G technology had also been discussed between Prime Minister Modi and US President Donald Trump at their bilateral meeting in Osaka in June on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.―Deccan Chronicle

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