Alarm over imprint of Chinese telecom firms in Nepal

Security agencies have raised an alarm over increased imprint of Chinese telecom firms in neighbouring Nepal's communication set up and asked for immediate intervention of the External Affairs Ministry for providing a suitable alternative to the Himalayan nation.

Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has written to the Department of Telecom apprising it about the plans of Zhing Xing Telecommunication Equipment Company Limited (ZTE) to build four high-technology data centres for a fast growing private Nepalese telecom company, official sources said quoting a note in this regard.

RAW, the country's external intelligence gathering organisation, said the centres were to come up in Nepalese capital Kathmandu, Biratnagar, Hetauda and Pokhra and that the telecom company would also be investing 25 million dollars for purchasing hardware and related software for these centres, they said.

It said that ZTE was one of the China's largest wireless-telephone equipment manufacturer and network solution provider and maintains close ties with People's Liberation Army (PLA).

"Its increasing footprint along with other Chinese companies raises the possibility of installing bugged equipment in the Nepal's communication network. This in-turn could allow China to monitor/intercept data and voice traffic any communications carried out between India and Nepal," the report said.

The agency wants the DoT to take up the matter with the Ministry of External Affairs to flag its concerns with the Nepal Government and also work on a proposal that India would also make its own investments in similar projects to ensure that communication networks between the two countries are secure.

The US House Intelligence Committee had last month accused the two Chinese's telecommunications companies of being arms of the government that had stolen intellectual property from American companies and could potentially spy on Americans, a charge denied by the company.

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