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Huawei round-up: Promise of ‘no backdoor’ pact, 5G trial proposal, and more

Here is a round-up of every key developments surrounding Huawei in India so far this week:

Huawei offers India a ‘no back door’ pact

Amid Huawei’s escalated scrutiny in the world on national security issues, Jay Chen, CEO of Huawei India said that the firm was willing to sign a “no back door” pact with the Indian government in an interview with the Economic Times. He also said that Huawei was willing to comply with India’s data localisation norms and that it was his “commitment” to store everything in India, “even if India didn’t ask for it”. A “back door” is a point of access in a network/equipment that guarantees entry into the network/equipment under exceptional circumstances. In its absence, the equipment supplier would not be able to access the customer’s network without consent. He told ET that several potential Chinese investors are waiting in line to invest in India should the country make a favourable call on the company’s future here.

Government has received six proposals for 5G trials, including from Huawei

So far, the government has received six proposals for 5G trials that include China’s Huawei and its sister ZTE, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed Lok Sabha yesterday. He was responding to a set of questions raised by opposition MP Ritesh Pandey regarding the government’s stance on Huawei’s participation in India’s 5G trials. The MP also asked if foreign operators will be given equal access to the country’s telecom infrastructure as domestic operators, to which Prasad replied that 5G field trials would be carried out only by licensed telecom service providers in a restrictive, limited geographical area and for specific use case. Prasad further added that a committee headed by the principal scientific advisor has been set up to look at issues, including security, relating to 5G trials in India, when asked about the government’s plans to protect the country’s telecommunications infrastructure from possible surveillance attempts.

Decision on Huawei ‘strategic’; will have trade and geopolitical implications: Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan

Telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that DoT alone will not decide Huawei’s business engagements in India and it will be the government’s call after a panel set up by DoT submits its report on Huawei to it, according to a Livemint report. She added that any decision made around the Chinese firm would be “strategic” as it it will have significant trade and geopolitical implications. The DoT has set up a panel to examine issues related to Huawei’s participation in the Indian telecom network. Before that, the US had “warned” the Indian government that Indian companies that supply American-origin products to could face severe punishment in a letter on  this to the Ministry of External Affairs on May 27th, in a clear effort to pressure India to act against the Chinese firm. On receiving the letter, the MEA had urged the Department of Telecom (DoT) to clear its stand on the participation of Huawei in developing 5G technology in India.

Make an ‘informed and independent’ decision: Huawei to India

Huawei urged India to make an informed and independent decision on its participation in the country’s 5G trials, according to an Economic Times report. The company said that the government should have an independent view on protecting its own networks and data through test mechanisms and policies. It also said that it is important that cybersecurity issues be addressed only by an evidence and fact based approach, instead of “banning out of fear”. This statement came a week after Beijing had told New Delhi to not politicise Huawei’s participation in 5G trials and be “independent” and “fair” in its judgement.

Also read: 2001-2019: Huawei’s long history of being considered a national security threat

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