The US is having a tough time persuading the world's biggest democracy to ditch Huawei

  • America is having a hard time persuading India to reject Huawei’s 5G technology, The Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The US has been lobbying other countries to freeze out Huawei on the grounds that the company could act as a backdoor for the Chinese government to carry out espionage. Huawei denies this.
  • An Indian official told The Journal that Huawei “can’t be ignored,” as it was at the forefront of 5G wireless technology.

America’s international lobbying efforts to curb the Chinese phone giant Huawei’s growth have hit a brick wall in the form of the world’s largest democracy, India.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that pressure from the US hadn’t been enough to persuade India to pass on Huawei’s 5G wireless technology just yet.

The US has been consistently lobbying allies to freeze out Huawei from supplying technology for their 5G networks, as the country maintains that the company could act as a proxy for the Chinese government to carry out espionage.

Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, this week told the BBC that Huawei didn’t provide China’s Communist Party with any “backdoors” through which to spy.


Read more:
‘There’s no way the US can crush us’: Huawei’s founder issued a defiant message to Trump’s administration

At least some allies are taking US concerns about Huawei on board. Britain has argued it could safely deploy Huawei’s 5G technology but has criticised the Chinese firm for being slow to address security worries. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press conference in Hungary that it would be “more difficult” for the US to partner with nations that didn’t distance themselves from Huawei.

But Germany is leaning toward allowing Huawei to participate in building its 5G networks.

The Journal reports that India could be the US’s toughest challenge. With a rapidly expanding online population, India is an enormous market and would be a major win for Huawei, though the firm’s presence there is still relatively small.

A memo sent earlier this month from India’s Home Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office and the head of the National Security Council – parts of which were read out to The Journal – said the US had been in touch. “The US side is concerned,” it said.

An unnamed senior Indian official with knowledge of the matter told The Journal that India was keen to take advantage of 5G and might ignore America’s warnings about Huawei to do so.

“Huawei is today at the frontier on 5G and so can’t be ignored,” the person said. “All technologies have security concerns and vulnerabilities, so singling out Huawei won’t be correct.” The person added that India would select its 5G vendors on its own terms.

The same source said US officials had been lobbying for India to engage with American rivals to Huawei, such as Qualcomm.

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