Tell us who owns you, says India to China network firms

The Indian government has demanded that Chinese networking firms Huawei and ZTE produce details of their ownership within one month if they are to lift the current ban on importing their equipment, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Earlier this month, authorities imposed an effective embargo on local telecommunications operators importing Chinese-made technology on grounds of national security.

Following a meeting between representatives from ZTE and the Indian Home Secretary late last week, the vendors have reportedly been issued with a deadline for disclosing the precise nature of their ownership.

At present, the Department of Telecommunications itself is not forbidding the import of Chinese gear, but all individual procurement requests are routinely being blocked by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, with one unnamed official claiming the government has uncovered alarming information regarding the ownership of ZTE and Huawei.

"We have evidence that the two companies are owned by the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) of China, and India’s security concerns are well-founded," the anonymous source told Dow Jones Newswires.

Shenzhen-based Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei is a former officer of the PLA and it is this fact that is commonly cited as one of the main reasons why the company’s attempted acquisition of US networking equipment vendor 3Com eventually collapsed.

Huawei neither confirmed nor denied the presence of a ban on its technology for use by Indian carriers. "We are not able to comment on any specific measures taken or contemplated," Ross Gan, global head of corporate communication, told newspaper the Wall Street Journal.

Last week, a separate company spokesperson told Reuters that Huawei was considering building an India-based manufacturing plant in a bid to allay its neighbour’s security fears.

Security tensions between the two Asian giants remains an ongoing issue. In November 2009, Indian authorities reportedly told state-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam not to use Chinese equipment in politically sensitive regions, such as those areas bordering Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

In April this year, Indian officials blamed attempted cybersecurity breaches targeted at the India Defense Ministry and the Dalai Lama’s office on Chinese hackers.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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