Huawei plays hardball with India on the day Mike Pompeo arrived in New Delhi

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Huawei plays hardball with India on the day Mike Pompeo arrived in New Delhi
Chinese telecom giant Huawei has sought to allay spying concerns by offering to sign a “no backdoor,” agreement with the Indian Government.
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Huawei’s offer comes amidst the increased tensions between the United States of America and China following the US trade ban. The India Government is currently evaluating the process of 5G testing and deployment across the country, a technology which Huawei is a purveyor of.

In a statement to The Economic Times, Jay Chen, the Chief Executive of the India operations said, “I would like to propose to the industry, no matter which country you are from, let's sign the ‘no backdoor agreements’ with our customers and the Indian government to give the commitment, confidence and trust.”

“I am ready to sign one today.”, Chen reiterated, “We encourage other vendors and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to sign these pacts,” he added.

Huawei expresses commitment against spying

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Chen’s latest statement comes a month after Huawei chairman Liang Hua signaled his company’s willingness to sign similar agreements with governments across the world. Hua said, “We are willing to sign ‘no-spy’ agreements with governments, including the UK government, to commit ourselves, to commit our equipment to meet the no-spy, no back-door standards.”

Ready to move Indian data back to India

With the Indian Government preparing to present the Data Protection Bill in the Parliament, Chen stated that his company was ready to move Indian users’ data to Indian shores.

“We give this commitment that we will store everything locally in India gradually. Some of the servers are in Singapore and some are in India. We will bring servers to India even if India doesn't ask for it,” he elaborated.

Chen’s comments ahead of Pompeo’s visit

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While Huawei has been globally embroiled in a struggle to assuage spying concerns, Chen’s statements come ahead of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to India. The US has actively encouraged allies to seek alternatives to prevent Huawei from deploying their 5G network infrastructure, citing spying concerns.

Notably, the USA, Australia and more recently, New Zealand have banned Huawei from taking part in 5G trials. Indian IT Minister Ravishankar Prasad has recently announced that the 5G trials would begin in India with telcos Airtel, Vodafone-Idea and Reliance Jio participating in them.

India to remain non-committal on Huawei ban, for a while at least

A recent report has revealed that India could remain non-committal on the Huawei ban during Pompeo’s visit. An anonymous government official was quoted saying that India would be on a “listening mode only”, and that the administration was in “no hurry to take a final call”.

Huawei has sought the Indian government to take an “informed decision”.
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