Last week, the Taipei Times reported Chinese telecommunications company Huawei is once again at the center of international tension. However, this time, the issue isn’t between the United States and China; it’s between the People’s Republic and India. The Asian superpower has allegedly threatened to punish India for blocking the controversial telecom from participating in the construction of its 5G network.
Trade War Fallout
For years now, the United States government has had a contentious relationship with the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. Though Washington alleges the firm is an organ of the Chinese government, some industry observers claim the discord is caused by Sino-American trade war. Critics contend the Trump administration has only sanctioned Huawei to force Beijing to offer more favorable trade terms.
Notably, the U.S. government has done more than take steps to keep Huawei’s equipment and products out of America. Indeed, the Trump administration has instructed its allies to bar the corporation from their 5G construction projects. As a result, Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan have joined the United States in banning the conglomerate from developing their next-generation data networks.
In July, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Indian Ambassador Vikram Misri in for a meeting. During the conference, Sino government officials told Misiri that Beijing would issue “reverse sanctions” against Indian businesses operating in China if New Delhi blacklisted Huawei.
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told the Taipei Times the Chinese government hoped India would be “independent” when selecting telecom contractors.
As of this writing, New Delhi has not made an official statement about Huawei’s possible involvement with its 5G infrastructure.
Three Possible Outcomes
At present, there seem to be three possible outcomes for the Huawei and India scenario.
One, the Southeast Asian nation could follow America’s lead in banning the Sino firm building its 5G network. Doing so would please the Trump administration, but it would increase tensions between India and China. Notably, the neighboring countries almost came into armed conflict in 2017 due to a dispute regarding their respective borders. Given the possible implications, India blacklisting Huawei would be the worst outcome for the situation.
Two, India could elect to allow Huawei to bid on its 5G infrastructure projects along with Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung. That move would protect the likelihood of Chinese-based Indian businesses and possibly prevent a devastating war. However, it would also likely exacerbate simmering trade tensions between the United States and the Southeast Asian Republic. This would be a less than ideal but not apocalyptic solution to India’s Huawei problem.
Lastly, New Delhi could allow the Chinese conglomerate conditional access to its telecommunications networks. As ZDNet notes, Britain has taken this approach in its dealings with Huawei. Despite warnings from its intelligence services that the firm’s data security is subpar, London authorized the company to build part of its 5G infrastructure. But the UK government did forbid the firm from working on the most sensitive parts of its new network.
The third possible resolution to the India-Huawei scenario would be a symbolic warm bowl of porridge. By allowing the Sino firm to participate in its $103.9 billion telecom industry, New Delhi would appease Beijing. But by keeping the company at arm’s length, it might also be able to satisfy Washington.
As a new Sino-Indian war would likely devastate the entire planet, here’s hoping the third possible outcome is realized.