China hails India decision to allow Huawei in 5G trial

AFP file photo

2020 seems to be beginning on a promising note for New Delhi's relations with Beijing, with China welcoming the decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to allow Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. to take part in the 5G trials in India.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told journalists on Monday that the decision of the Modi government to allocate airwaves to all telecom service providers for conducting trials of the 5G networks.

Though President Donald Trump's administration in Washington D.C. has been nudging New Delhi to keep Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. away from 5G roll-out in India, Prasad's statement made it clear that Modi government would not bar any company from participating in the trial of the super-fast network.

Beijing on Tuesday welcomed New Delhi's decision.

“Glad to know all players got an equal chance to participate in #5G trial in #India. A welcome move conducive to initiatives like Digital India,” Sun Weidong, Beijing's envoy to New Delhi, posted on Twitter.

Trump Administration earlier this year banned Huawei’s products in the United States' market; citing security concerns, particularly the possibility of China using its telecom equipment company for surveillance and espionage activities in America.

It also barred the US companies from supplying software and components to any entity in based in China.

Beijing, however, has been asking New Delhi to take an “independent decision” on granting permission to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. for participating in the 5G trial.

“Hope Chinese companies continue to enjoy open, transparent business environment & (and) level playing field in India for win-win cooperation,” China's ambassador to India added in his post on Twitter.

Beijing even subtly conveyed to New Delhi that if India buckled under pressure from the US and barred Huawei from participating in the 5G trial, it would have serious implications for India-China relations.

When Modi hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping for the second “informal summit” at a seaside resort near Chennai on October 11 and 12, the senior officials of the communist country conveyed to their counterparts that Beijing would expect New Delhi allow its companies a level-playing field to do business in India.

During his visit to New Delhi in October, US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, warned that India might expose itself to security risks, if it allowed use of Huawei’s 5G telecom equipment in India.

The issue was also discussed when External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had a meeting with Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, on the sideline of the second India-America 2+2 dialogue in Washington D.C.

The first “informal summit” between Modi and Xi at Wuhan in central China in April 2018 brought about a thaw in bilateral relations, which had hit a new low over the June-August 2017 military face-off between the two nations at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan.

But the relationship again came under stress over the last few months of 2019 as China echoed Pakistan to oppose the August 5 decision of Modi government in New Delhi to strip Jammu and Kashmir off its special status and reorganise the state into two Union Territories.

The Chinese government perceived it as New Delhi's “unilateral” moves to change the status quo in the disputed territory and to strengthen its claim— not only on areas of Kashmir under occupation of Pakistan, but also on 5,180 sq km of areas ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963 as well as on Aksai Chin— a disputed territory between India and China.

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