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International Relations

Huawei Issue

  • 14 May 2019
  • 3 min read

Recently, a British cabinet minister lost his job over controversy around the Chinese company ‘Huawei’.

Suspicion on Huawei

  • The concerns are over a perceived security risk posed by Huawei to countries it is operating in. For example, as per report in Bloomberg, Vodafone had identified hidden backdoors in the software that could have given Huawei unauthorised access to the carrier’s fixed-line network in Italy.
  • The US government has banned Huawei from the country’s networks and has advised the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada to do the same.
  • The US claims that Huawei’s close ties with the Chinese government and its army make it a national security risk.
  • Among other countries, New Zealand and Australia have blocked the use of Huawei’s equipment in the rollout of 5G networks.

India’s Stand

  • India is yet to take a decision on whether to permit Huawei in 5G roll-outs.
    • It has, however, not stated explicitly whether it will allow Huawei to participate in the trials as Department of Telecommunications (DoT) awaits a recommendation from the committee examining security risks arising out of Huawei’s presence in 5G networks.
  • Moreover, the Department of Telecommunications itself is believed to be divided.

    • One section believes that the country can't have just two network equipment suppliers and there are risks from European vendors as well. This section believes Huawei should be given an opportunity in the 5G trials which will also allow India to scrutinize the security vulnerabilities if any.

    • The other believes that Chinese vendors are a serious security threat to India, given that those companies are - under Chinese law - duty bound to share information with the government.

  • Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd is even willing to sign a “no back door" pact with the Indian government to assuage potential security concerns.

    • 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.

  • Meanwhile, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd is looking at clarity from the Indian government following the US blacklist citing security concerns and has come under scrutiny worldwide.
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