Mukesh Ambani and Donald Trump had a good laugh about 5G, China and Huawei

Mukesh Ambani and Donald Trump had a good laugh about 5G, China and Huawei
  • US President Donald Trump, during his visit to India, met the country’s biggest business tycoons.
  • He met Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, who spoke to him about the 5G roll out.
  • Ambani told Trump that Reliance is the only network in the world that doesn’t have a Chinese component.
During his 36-hour visit to India, US President Donald Trump met the country’s business tycoons including Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

According to the transcripts released by the White House, while interacting with the President, Ambani told him that the US played a role in transforming Indian telecom sector – especially 4G.

To this, Trump asked him if he was going for 5G as well. As Mukesh Ambani said, “We’re going to do 5G. We’re the only network in the world that doesn’t have –”, Trump cut him to say “Huawei”, only for Ambani to add, “doesn’t have a single Chinese component.”

To this Trump replied with a laugh, “Well, that’s good. Good. Put a bid in.”

Huawei and China seem to be on top of Trump’s mind, even as he visited India and heaped praises on Modi, who also returned the favour. Yet, a trade deal was never signed though Trump promised an incredible deal in the works.


The conversation with Ambani could be far reaching as the US government banned Huawei from rolling out 5G in the country last year, as it believed the equipment could support Chinese espionage. It put Huawei and its subsidiary in the Entity List – the blacklist which made sure the companies can’t do business in the US. Moreso, the US had tried to arm-twist India into doing the same.

However, India allowed all network equipment makers, including Huawei to participate in its 5G trials. “5G trials will be done with all vendors and operators,” telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said in December 2019.

This is one part of the many issues that resulted in a standoff between US and China. Meanwhile, Google has reportedly requested the US government to let Huawei use its mobile services, in the fear that the Chinese tech giant is set out to build its own play store.

As the world is relatively new to 5G technology, few equipment makers possess the networking expertise. Taking Huawei out of the equation could affect the competition in the sector. While India has been preparing itself for 5G, it is yet to come up with a schedule to auction the airwaves amidst many issues - including the spectrum dues crisis in the sector.

Reliance Jio however has been very keen on upgrading to the next-gen technology, and is weaving a strategy around it. "Currently, Jio is best poised as their network is 5G ready," Arijeet Talapatra, chief executive of Transsion India told ET telecom.

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