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Indian trade body seeks barring Huawei and ZTE from deploying 5G network

CAIT wrote to Union Minister for Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad to ban Chinese technology companies Huawei and ZTE in India.

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India’s Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a local industry body, seeks to bar Chinese tech companies Huawei and ZTE from participating in the deployment of 5G network, Economic Times reported. CAIT on Tuesday wrote to Union Minister for Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad petitioning for a ban.

The traders’ body has been at the forefront of the protests against any form of participation of Chinese companies in the Indian market, ranging from retail to technology as the tension between India and China escalated over the disputed border in the Western Himalayas. The protest against Chinese companies in India grew after a violent face-off at the Himalayan border in June.

CAIT’s move came after India blocked 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat, claiming they are a threat to national security.

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“Huawei and ZTE Corporation of China should be banned from participating in 5G network rollout in India. It is also urged that technology and equipment of both Huawei and ZTE Corporation should be banned for use in 5G network rollout by any company,” CAIT’s letter said, citing the recent example of the UK barring Huawei equipment.

It also noted that barring these Chinese companies from India’s 5G infrastructure plan would play a significant role in leveraging the “vocal for local” call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which puts an emphasis on self-reliance. CAIT underlined that such steps from the government would pave the way for Indian companies to grab the opportunity to create their own software & hardware required for the 5G network.

Currently, India’s biggest mobile network, Reliance Jio, uses Samsung for its older 4G network. And it has been reported that the company has developed its own 5G technology and plans to offer it to other telecom companies.

5G refers to the next-generation mobile networks that promise super-fast download speed and the ability to support critical infrastructure. India has lagged behind in its rollout of the technology, while other countries like South Korea and China have powered ahead.

Last year, Indian government decided to allow all network equipment makers, including Huawei, to participate in 5G trials in order to speed up the country’s next-generation mobile network. According to The Wire, Huawei and ZTE, two of the key Chinese companies that offer network infrastructure, had applied to participate in India’s 5G trials and received the government’s approval for test runs.

The inclusion in India’s 5G trials was of particular significance for Huawei, which faces trading restrictions in many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and the US, because of security concerns. While the US government has been lobbying with India to exclude Huawei from the 5G market, China has been lobbying for Huawei and ZTE to be given equal opportunities in India’s 5G market.