China on Wednesday expressed concern and regret at Chinese telecommunications companies being kept out of India’s 5G technology and spectrum trials and called on India to “do more to enhance mutual trust” between the two sides.
The department of telecommunications on Tuesday gave permission to mobile service operators Bharti Airtel, Reliance JioInfocomm, Vodafone Idea and MTNL and network providers such as state-run C-DOT, Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia and South Korea’s Samsung to conduct trials across the country for six months.
Against the backdrop of the year-long military standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE didn’t find a place in the trials. The Indian side has repeatedly said complete disengagement and de-escalation at friction points along the LAC will be the basis for taking forward relations in other spheres, including business.
Responding to the department of telecommunications’ decision not to include Chinese firms in the trials, Chinese embassy spokesperson Wang Xiaojian expressed “concern and regret that Chinese telecommunications companies have not been permitted to conduct 5G trials with Indian telecom service providers”.
He said, “Relevant Chinese companies have been operating in India for years, providing mass job opportunities and making contribution to India’s infrastructure construction in telecommunications.”
Excluding Chinese telecommunications firms from the trials “will not only harm their legitimate rights and interests, but also hinder the improvement of the Indian business environment, which is not conducive to the innovation and development of related Indian industries”, Wang said.
“The Chinese side hopes that India could do more to enhance mutual trust and cooperation between the two countries, and provide an open, fair, just, and non-discriminatory investment and business environment for market entities from all countries, including China, to operate and invest in India,” he added.
Since the start of the border standoff in May last year, India banned more than 260 Chinese-origin mobile phone apps and curbed foreign direct investments from China.
There have been long-standing security concerns regarding the participation of Chinese firms such as Huawei and ZTE in India’s 5G trials. Former US president Donald Trump had also pressured India not to allow these firms to participate in the trials.
India and China agreed to withdraw their forces from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake in February, but the process of disengagement and de-escalation at other friction points on the LAC has been stalled. The Chinese side’s suggestion that the border issue be delinked from other aspects of bilateral ties such as trade and investment has been rebuffed by New Delhi.