China expresses ‘concern, regret’ over India’s 5G exclusion

China voiced “concern and regret” on Wednesday over India’s decision not to include Chinese telecommunications firms among the companies allowed to perform 5G technology trials this week. Speaking at a Global Dialogue Series event in London on Wednesday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar reiterated India’s position that it is “not realistic” to have friendly ties in other realms when there is conflict on the border. Mr Jaishankar did not directly address the 5G problem, but he did say something along these lines about India’s perspective on the partnership: “I can’t have conflict, bullying, threats, and bloodshed on the border and then say let’s have a nice relationship in other realms.” It’s not possible.”

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) authorised several Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to perform 5G trials on Tuesday but did not include Huawei and ZTE, two Chinese firms. “Bharti Airtel Ltd., Reliance Jio Info comm Ltd., Vodafone Idea Ltd., and MTNL are among the applicant TSPs,” according to the announcement, which also stated that they had “partnered with original Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and C-DOT are among the equipment suppliers and technology vendors, of Reliance Jio Info comm conducting trials of its own hardware.

 

The Chinese Embassy in New Delhi stated in response to the move, saying it “express[es] disappointment and regret that Chinese telecommunications firms have not been authorised to run 5G trials in India with Indian Telecom Service Providers.” “For years, relevant Chinese companies have been working in India, offering a large number of work openings and contributing to the development of India’s telecommunications infrastructure,” said spokesperson Wang Xiaojian.

 

Excluding Chinese telecommunications firms from the courts, he said, would “destroy their legitimate rights and interests.” “The Chinese side hopes that India will do more to strengthen confidence and cooperation, as well as provide a free, equal, just, and nondiscriminatory investment and business climate for market companies from all countries, including China, to operate and invest in India. Mr Jaishankar said the relationship was “going through a very difficult phase” because the Chinese had “deployed a very large part of their military on, and close to, the Line of Actual Control, without explanation, and they continue to be there” in breach of long-standing agreements and understandings.

 

Mr Jaishankar observed that the LAC crisis started one year ago, on May 5, 2020, with news of conflicts in the Galwan Valley and Pangong Lake. China’s “acts have disrupted peace and tranquilly,” he said, citing the bloodshed in Galwan in June as an example, and India “has been very clear that peace and tranquilly on the border areas is necessary for the growth of our ties.” The disengagement process was concluded in some places but is still underway in others a year later, and neither side has reached the de-escalation stage.

 

The Indian Department of Telecommunications authorised more than a dozen companies’ proposals to run a six-month trial to assess the use and use of 5G technologies in the country earlier this week. International giants such as Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung have been granted permission to partner with Indian telecom operators Jio Platforms, Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and MTNL for the trial.

 

The Indian government has not given Huawei, ZTE, and other Chinese companies operating in India for many years permission to engage in the upcoming tribunal. The Indian ministry announced earlier this week that it had permitted the telecom operators’ chosen firms.

During a phone call with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Friday, the External Affairs Minister said the two sides addressed their common interest in working together to combat COVID-19, which comes at a time when Indian companies are placing large orders for supplies from China due to the current crisis.

 

The Chinese Embassy in India’s spokesperson, Wang Xiaojian, said in a statement on Wednesday that the country is “concerned and regretful that Chinese telecommunications firms have been denied permission to run 5G trials with Indian Telecom Service Providers in India.” Relevant Chinese businesses have been working in India for years, creating a large number of work openings and contributing to the development of India’s network infrastructure. Excluding Chinese telecommunications firms from the trials would not only be detrimental to their legitimate rights and interests, but it would also impede the enhancement of the Indian market climate, which would be detrimental to the growth and advancement of relevant Indian industries,” Xiaojian said.

 

Last year, Airtel (India’s second-largest telecom operator) said that it was willing to work with global technology companies, including those from China, on component growth. “Over the last 10 to 12 years, Huawei has improved their products to the point that I can confidently state that their products, at least in terms of 3G and 4G that we have tested, are greatly superior to Ericsson. Then-US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urged India and other US allies to stop Huawei at the same panel.

 

Last year, skirmishes at the common frontier between India and China heightened geopolitical tensions. India, which amended a rule early last year to make it more difficult for Chinese businesses to invest in Indian companies, has since blocked over 200 applications with links to China, including TikTok, UC Browser, and PUBG Mobile, citing national security concerns.

 

India’s action comes after parallel moves by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, all of which have expressed reservations about Huawei and ZTE’s links to the Chinese government. Business climate for market entities from all countries, including China, to operate and invest in India,” Xiaojian wrote.

 

China voiced “strong fears” and “vehemently rejected” India’s claims that Chinese applications posed a national security risk last year. The Chinese Embassy said that New Delhi was engaged in “discriminatory activities” that “violated WTO laws” by blocking applications with ties to China. However, by replacing the two with European vendors, Airtel has been able to reduce its reliance on them. India has joined the United States and some of its partners in blocking Huawei and ZTE from participating in 5G trials, blaming suspected cyber-snooping by the two firms on behalf of Beijing. Both Huawei and ZTE have refuted any misconduct, claiming that there is no evidence of the accusations anywhere in the world.

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