India’s position on the Huawei question should be closer to that of the US and Japan (a ban from 5G critical infrastructure) rather than that of Kenya or the Netherlands (a conditional yes to Huawei). That’s because China is, after all, India’s adversary and its biggest strategic challenge. Given this situation, handing over critical communications infrastructure to companies closely connected with the Chinese party-state does not make any strategic sense.
Even if Huawei is serious about commitment to mitigate security concerns, bestowing an adversary with geopolitical leverage is a poor strategy. Just like India is unlikely to give control of its major ports infrastructure to any Chinese company, our critical communications infrastructure also needs to be guarded.
From the economic angle, it’s probably true that banning Huawei and ZTE will result in some economic costs to India and Indians. To reduce this impact, India can consider a two-fold strategy. When it comes to critical network infrastructure, Chinese companies could be banned. On the other hand, India could welcome Huawei/ZTE 5G mobile phones with open arms because cheap 5G phones will benefit crores of Indians.
What needs to be internalised is that the question of 5G network infrastructure is too important an issue to be left to a DoT decision alone. It requires a holistic assessment of security, economic, and strategic concerns and must be taken by the cabinet committee on security. In our view, strategic concerns far outweigh the economic benefits and security fears.
Read the full article on The Telegraph here.
(Image source: Christoph Scholz on Flickr)