Chinese apps have been banned in India; Is Huawei next?

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 30, 2020, 09.05 PM(IST) Edited By: Palki Sharma

Huawei 5G Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The company controls a lion's share of the global 5G market and yet, more and more countries are trying to block it.

Huawei is a Chinese tech giant and the global market leader in 5G. In India, Huawei has a big presence. It's been in India for 20 years. It makes up one-third of Bharti Airtel's network and 40 per cent of Vodafone Idea's network.

Also read: India's Chinese app ban seen jolting $1 billion expansion of ByteDance

Huawei employs around 7,500 people in India. After China, its second-biggest R&D centre is in India. The alternatives to Huawei, like Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung cost significantly more.

The company controls a lion's share of the global 5G market and yet, more and more countries are trying to block it.

When Huawei was given the green light to participate in the 5G trials in India, the company breathed a sigh of relief. Huawei may have dodged a bullet then. But now, it faces fire and perhaps a global ban.

Also read: Strongly concerned over India's ban on Chinese apps: China

The world is blaming China for unleashing a pandemic. Governments are looking to punish China and Huawei is the perfect target. Given the many security concerns surrounding the telecom giant.

India cited security concerns to ban 59 Chinese apps and Huawei could be next. 

The government has held discussions on India's 5G rollout plans. More specifically on Huawei should the Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer be allowed to participate. Another Chinese company under the scanner is ZTE. 

These discussions happened when the ban on Chinese apps was being discussed. If India blocks Huawei, it won't be the first country to do so. 

Countries around the world are dumping the Chinese tech giant. Australia and New Zealand won't allow Huawei to build their 5G networks. Japan too has imposed a ban.  The United Kingdom has limited Huawei's participation in the 5G rollout. It's now rethinking the Chinese company's role. 

Several countries remain undecided. Businesses too are hesitant to deal with Huawei.

In Canada, two big Telcos, Telus and BCE chose Ericsson and Nokia to build their 5G network.\

The campaign against Huawei is being driven by the United States.

It began almost two years ago when the Trump administration began reaching out to allies. The United States argues that Huawei is a threat to national security. The company has close links to the communist party.

Recently, the Pentagon said that Huawei is owned or controlled by the People's Liberation Army. The US secretary of state went one step further. Mike Pompeo has called Huawei a surveillance arm of China. He said: "You've seen this all, everyone in this room knows that the Chinese communist party, strong-arms nations to do business with Huawei, an arm of the CCP's surveillance state."

For Huawei, this battle against America is a personal one. Meng Wanzhou,  the daughter of Huawei's billionaire founder Ren Zheng remains in Canada's custody.

She was arrested in 2018 after America requested extradition. The Trump administration accuses meng of breaking Iranian sanctions. The arrest has soured the Canada-China relationship.

Despite the blowback from Beijing, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hasn't stayed silent on the case. Trudeau said: "It is certain that this issue of China trying to exert political pressure on Canada by having arbitrarily detained two Canadians in response to us fulfilling obligations under an international extradition treaty is causing a challenge in our relationship. We need to demonstrate that we have an independent judiciary and we will continue to respect that independent judiciary, regardless of the pressure put on us by foreign governments." 

Western governments are using Huawei to thwart China's ambitions. India should take a cue and crackdown on China's tech giant that poses a security threat.