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Currently, India is phasing out equipment from Huawei and different Chinese companies from its telecoms networks. They are doing it over an escalating border dispute, thereby striking a fresh blow to the beleaguered technology giant in one of its most important markets. New Delhi has not issued any formal written ban on Chinese equipment suppliers like that of Huawei and ZTE. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government made no such public pronouncements. Vodafone, being India’s third-largest telecoms player, is the most dependent on Chinese equipment. The industry executives and government officials say that the key ministries have clearly indicated the local telecom service providers, saying that they should avoid using Chinese equipment in future investments, including in 5G networks.
Government avoiding Chinese goods
A top telecom industry executive said, “It’s open now that the government is not going to allow Chinese equipment.” He added on to it saying, “There is now clarity … It’s really game over.” India’s telecoms department executive even added, “It has already disallowed 5G testing with Chinese vendors”.
Huawei is regarded as one of the three biggest telecom equipment suppliers in India. It is recognised as the world’s second-biggest mobile market with more than 850 million users. It even had significant contracts with Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and state-owned BSNL. New Delhi didn’t seem to ever formally ban Huawei or other Chinese equipment companies. However, it had provoked a tough response from Beijing, as a senior government official has said. The official also added to it saying that Mr Modi’s administration was highly wary about Chinese investment in sensitive infrastructure. Both the nuclear-armed neighbours have tens of thousands of soldiers massed along their disputed border high on the Tibetan plateau. This occurred after a deadly brawl had left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead.
The official further quoted, “The thinking is: ‘Let’s do tough rather than talk tough,'” the official said. “We don’t want to make life miserable for consumers. But when it comes to big public contracts and critical infrastructure, we would prefer non-Chinese companies. That message has gotten through to Indian business.”
Political pressure prevails regarding the ban of Chinese equipment
New Delhi’s informal boycott grows and Huawei seems to be under growing political pressure in Western countries from the UK to Australia, it got banned from providing 5G kit amid concerns which further allowed Beijing to hack into countries’ power grids and other critical infrastructure.
Anti-China sentiment in India has grown since June’s border dispute. Post that, New Delhi has banned TikTok along with other 58 other apps, citing national security concerns.
Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst of Greyhound Research said, “India’s government is yet to issue an official diktat against Huawei and is playing wait and watch.”. He further said, “Irrespective, the intent is evident – that of not being welcoming to Huawei.”
Mr Gogia said about Huawei’s exclusion from upcoming 5G trials would be a blow to both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone’s struggling Indian arm since it is going to lead to higher costs. He said, “It would even open opportunities for Huawei’s rivals Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung.”