July 14, 2010

Is India Unduly Concerned About China and Chinese Telecom Firms?

There have been stray reports about India and Indian ministries being “unduly” concerned about China and Chinese companies, particularly in telecom and power.[1] Making light of such concerns is based on the specious premise that China is too focussed on its global ambitions and economic prosperity to take undue risks via military (mis)adventures that could jeopardise its economic gains.

That’s a dangerous line of thought that overlooks China’s past record. The dragon always works to a game-plan. It would be naive to ignore China’s hegemonistic ambitions, despite its assertions to the contrary. The global cyber hacking of foes and friends alike (India, US, UKPakistan, etc.)[2] is ample indication that China nurses Genghis Khan’s ambitions cloaked with Mao Zedong’s stealth. Allowing Chinese telecom and power companies into India can be fraught with long-term security implications. It’s not without reason the Home Ministry has voiced fears that telecom equipment may contain spyware or malware that could compromise confidential information and allow hostile intelligence agencies to access this.[3]

In fact, Chinese telecom company Huawei has been accused of bribery, data theft and conspiracy to disrupt national telecom networks in many countries around the world. Worldwide, many countries and their intelligence chiefs are extremely wary of Huawei, particularly since it was founded by Ren Zhengfei, ex-director of the telecom research arm of China’s People’s Liberation Army.[4]

The other point for sceptics to note is that China has been making diplomatic, economic and militaristic inroads into neighbouring countries and, essentially, ‘encircling’ India, which includes setting up ‘listening posts’ in the neighbourhood.[5] China’s attempt to strike a nuclear deal and transfer conventional and nuclear weapons capabilities to Pakistanis part of its larger game-plan. Attempts to equate a Sino-Pak nuclear deal with the Indo-US nuclear agreement are untenable, especially because Pakistan has an abysmal nuclear proliferation record, while India doesn’t. Although trade with China should be welcomed, allowing Chinese companies unrestricted entry into telecom and power calls for an abundant measure of caution. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry!

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