Saturday, March 25, 2023
HomeOpinionBrahmastraWith new telecom policy, Modi govt starts the game of hitting China...

With new telecom policy, Modi govt starts the game of hitting China where it hurts the most

The National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector has been framed keeping in mind the changed scenario and seeks to put powerful Chinese telecom companies into a corner.

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India’s decision to secure telecom infrastructure by designating a “trusted source” for the purchase of equipment by service providers, is the first big step by the Narendra Modi government that could end up hurting China deeply, since the military stand-off began in Ladakh in May.

The ban of over 200 Chinese apps by the government over the past few months was just superficial, to say the least.

But with this new step, China faces the heat because the National Security Directive on the Telecommunication Sector has been framed keeping in mind the changed scenario.

Earlier in August, I had argued that it was time for India to escalate the costs for the neighbour and hit China where it will be hurt the most — economy.

Experts point out that while the Modi government has been careful in not mentioning China in its new telecom policy, everyone is aware who this is directed at – Huawei and ZTE among other Chinese companies.

One will have to wait and watch though whether the government will really walk the talk and not list Chinese firms as “trusted source”.

However, the new move is in line with what a top government source had told me recently that the government will be “firm” with China in all sectors and not just the defence.

There is an increasing realisation in the government that the Chinese move in Ladakh early May, which has led to multiple incursions into the Indian side, is an attempt by President Xi Jinping to establish China and himself as a global power and to put down Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

But then so was the 1962 War when China’s politico-strategic aim was to ‘teach India a lesson’, and put then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the mat.

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Modi invested in ties with China

Since his days as the CM of Gujarat, Modi has invested in nurturing the relationship with China. He has met with Xi Jinping 18 times since becoming prime minister in 2014.

Of course, these include one-on-one meetings in each other’s countries and on the sidelines of the multilateral summits. But then, as The Indian Express report points out, Modi has visited China five times as the PM, the most by any Indian PM in the last 70 years.

So while the bonhomie continued, the Doklam stand-off of 2017 showed to the Chinese that India could mean business when it decides to. No matter what political spectrum a person might belong to, he/she will agree that India standing up against China in Bhutan was unexpected.

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Modi undoing what he did

The National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector can actually be seen as Modi undoing what he has done since 2015 vis-a-vis China.

Two months after Modi’s three-day state visit to China in 2015, a proposal from Huawei pending for about two years was approved, giving the Chinese firm security clearance to set up a manufacturing unit in India.

The Forbes report said that the “trip ultimately yielded over $22 billion in business-tie agreements, including one in which India’s Bharti Airtel signed with China Development Bank for the financing of telecom equipment from Huawei and ZTE”.

Despite the Doklam stand-off, India continued to welcome Huawei into the 5G race, notwithstanding pressure from the US.

Such was the confidence of the Chinese firm that in September 2019, a top Huawei official said that a decision on its 5G infrastructure will be taken when Modi and Xi meet in October.

And in December, Modi’s government decided to allow Huawei Technologies to take part in the 5G trials in India.

Incidentally, every single security agency raised multiple concerns over Chinese inclusion in 5G.

And as I reported in January this year, the Defence Services too had red-flagged the possibility of Chinese 5G services being introduced in the country, saying there is a huge security risk and that such services could compromise the entire command and communication structure of the Indian military.

But the back-stabbing by the Chinese in Ladakh changed the entire dynamics at play.

There is no doubt that India should be firm in handling China. But at the same time, it must also be careful. While India slowly edges out China in the telecom sphere or at least puts it into a corner, it should remember that shifting to non-Chinese firms will also have huge cost implications.

As lawyer Poornima Advani recently argued, “building local technical capabilities is not an easy task as India faces challenges in not only the hardware sector but also has relatively weak network construction capabilities compared to China”.

Views are personal.

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  1. It wrote as naturetruth, I read as nature call. Whatever, what is in a name, pig xi and pubji all are same. And about becoming the second hub, there is a truth — no second hub is possible; but surely a better hub is possible. India should go for it. And on other blames written there, I just want to write one name — tien un mane.

  2. Despite all the comments against India,this country shall grow,at it’s own pace,with or without Chinese link.Let’s agree that India is not autocratic like China,not fully developed blike US or EU.So we shall grow, definitely,as growth is the sign of life.No need to grow with break neck speed. Let’s agree that growth should be linked with equal distribution of it’s fruits and ensures happiness for all.Don’t get into rat race with others in the name of growth and development. I think we should take Israel as a role model rather than China or US.

  3. India is hoping that by fighting China for US, it can benefit from US investment to make it another “China” world mfg factory.

    Alas India with its corrupted gov, broken infrastructure, poor education system with 40% illiteracy and 90% poorly educated, is impossible.

    Even without industries, India is already world worst polluted country, with global Top 21 most polluted cities, and a chronic water pollution. There will be no clean water for any industrialization.

    Moreover, China unrivaled mfg capacity and economy of scale make it impossible to have 2nd mfg hub else where. At most is low end small scale factory transfer to Vietnam and Asean that are much better than bureaucratic corrupted India.

    The exclusion of China Huawei 5G will see India pay tens of $Bils extra and 5yrs delay in roll out with inefficient 5G network using multiple vendors. Ambani boasting of 100% indigenous 5G network roll out by 2021 is a great scam.

    All neighbors will leapfrog India in development with China’s 5G & BRI, making India the poorest and most backward Asia nation by 2025.

    • Based on your condisending comment I would guess u are either a chinese or a pakistani or a disgruntled left leaning brit or a arrogant NRI. Narendra Modi has been effective in weeding out corruption and brought reforms from grassroot level to high end level. Simultaneously he has been reforming and reviving the indegenous culturr of the country which was suppressed during the dynastic rule of congress UPA. What you say would be true if rahul Gandhi had been prime minister. Granted there are a lot of problems to solve in India, dont make it as though China is problem, they created the pandemic and dragged the whole world into it. China is getting rattled by the sudden responses made in banning apps and boycotts, changes will be slow but see in 5 years India will slowly end up being more competitive to China. Stop living a dream, China is the most polluted country in the world, polluted by communism.

      • I could gift you a dictionary. You have great need of it. Until then, you could perhaps, use spellcheck on your computer.

    • Congress has ruled India for 55 out of the India’s 70 years of Independence damaging India’s all capabilities and draining out India’s brain to the West. To-date the TRAITORS like Rahul Ganddhi and like-minded Mamata Banerjee continue to destroy India from ensuring that India remains an ultra-poor untr-weak country. India has materialized the dreams of her DESTRUCTIVE political leaders.

  4. Has GOI considered mounting defense costs because of China. Even if the costs are more, it is better to welcome any other country other than China. Nehruji was fooled by China. Modi ji should learn from history. Modi ji should ensure the downfall of China’e economy by ensuring that EU, US & all other countries slowly stop buying from China. The next step should be to declare that Chinese mobile handsets are risky to India’s defence & that a high tech team is looking into it & till then all mobile’s from China cannot be sold in India. A economically strong China is a threat to global peace & harmony. Indians are fortunate that Modi ji is at the helm of affairs.

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