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Opinion Op Ed 03 Jan 2020 Huawei in India: The ...
The writer is an alumnus of the National Defence College, and the author of China in India.

Huawei in India: The Chinese, finally, get their way

Published Jan 3, 2020, 2:08 am IST
Updated Jan 3, 2020, 2:08 am IST
Indians need to understand the intrinsic multi-dimensional long-term strategy of the Communist Party government in Beijing.
A glimpse of how Huawei operates might be an eye-opener. (Photo: AP)
 A glimpse of how Huawei operates might be an eye-opener. (Photo: AP)

The Chinese seem to have finally succeeded in pushing Huawei through the Indian heartland to bid for the multi-billion-dollar hearing-device 5G telecommunications system? Indeed, it speaks volumes for the tenacity, resilience and perseverance of the Communist Party of China and its leaders in convincing the Indian establishment about their reliability and quality for service to India’s 1.3 billion heads. Realistically, it wasn’t only a matter of prestige, image and credibility for the Chinese, but it reflects their desperation too. The objective was to enter into a ready-made consumer market of at least 800 million people, more than that of the whole of Europe, or of the rest of Asia, minus China.

Who wouldn’t want to enter the Indian market with an “L-1 tender” offer? In a market where quantity trumps quality? Lower and cheaper prices are always seen by Indian consumers as the best option. Now, what is “L-1”? It is the lowest (or cheapest) bid, which stands on top in a list of multi-bidders, vying for the slot of chosen supplier. That is far too lucrative for China to let go, as the supplier to world’s second biggest telecommunications market in India. Beijing, which already is far ahead in bilateral trade, will mint more cash, and India as the mega-consumer will continue to empty its coffers, and thus face a double-whammy — financial uncertainty enmeshed with a turbulent polity.

 

The unfolding scenario doesn’t augur well for India’s future. It is more than a possibility that by allowing Huawei to compete, irreparable damage might be inflicted on India’s internal systems and national security, exposing and allowing access to a country that simply doesn’t inspire an iota of confidence. Huawei’s shenanigans across the globe has already reached high levels, and the United States certainly cannot be faulted for keeping it in check, given the corporation’s suspected military intelligence links and unlimited propensity for espionage, on behalf of its Communist Party masters. The history of Chinese spying goes back to Sun Tzu and Mao Zedong. Just read Brig. John P. Dalvi’s Himalayan Blunder once again.

 

Indians need to understand the intrinsic multi-dimensional long-term strategy of the Communist Party government in Beijing. That it is a party which is “all in one”. It is the government, the State, the military. The Chinese Communists truly believe that their “time has come”, and given the fact that the West is in virtual withdrawal, caught up in its own problems, wants to rule the waves, air, land. The Chinese are well aware that the rest of the world has neither the time, inclination or intention to learn Mandarin language as it is hugely time-consuming!

 

The Chinese are truly on a “revenge spree”. Revenge for the Opium War of the nineteenth century, which had its ops headquarters in India under the aegis of the East India Company, backed and supported by the British Crown. Large parts of China’s coastal towns and provinces got addicted to “cheap” opium. Today, in a reversal of roles, the vast majority of Indian consumers have got addicted to “cheap” Chinese gadgets. China has found the knob, and India’s establishment seems helpless in the face of a determined Chinese onslaught which deftly combines psy war with influencing a sizeable chunk of opinion makers. Hardly any critical appreciation, not to speak of criticism, appears in India’s leading news media.

 

In this delicate scenario, it certainly cannot be the sole responsibility of the soldiers of the state or intelligence agencies or a handful in the government to be held accountable for the safety, security, unity, integrity and sovereignty of the nation. All Indians have some responsibility to save the nation from the dangers of China’s avowed long-term game to break India into 30-32 pieces.

A glimpse of how Huawei operates might be an eye-opener. It has been reported that “Chinese firms are driving Artificial Intelligence (AI) across Africa”. That, “at least 75 out of 176 nations surveyed globally are actively using AI tech for surveillance, and the leading vendors are Chinese firms, led by Huawei, which supplied tech to at least 50 countries”.

 

The Chinese are the fastest penetrators in the African market, as they offer soft loans for governments to purchase their equipment and promise to set up and manage these systems. Does one need to explain what this means? From Algeria to the Ivory Coast, South Africa to Nigeria, Egypt to Zambia, China has emerged the master of survey, surveillance and security threats to both coastal and landlocked states, capturing the land, labour and capital of Africa through slow, steady and surreptitiously destructive methods.

In India, with 90 per cent of its telecom equipment imported, the possibility of foreign surveillance is a reality. However, among all foreign players, none can beat the Chinese simply as India was, is, and will continue to be their prime target. This was clearly spelt out in my book China in India, and I will be only too happy for it to be proved that my fears were misplaced.

 

Let Indians face reality, and not build castles in the air about China. Huawei’s entry will be projected as a “sign” of Indo-Chinese “convergence” for India’s modernisation. Territorial disputes, on the other hand, are a “divergence”. But why is India forgetting, despite it being pointed out, that China will never, ever, allow any foreigner, however friendly, to get anywhere near their “defence, electricity, oil, petrochemicals, telecommunications, coal, aviation, and shipping”, all of which are state-owned enterprises, equivalent to India’s public sector undertakings like ONGC, Bhel, BEL, Air India? Beijing also steadfastly maintains its strong presence in “pillar industries” like “equipment manufacturing, auto-making, electronics, construction, steel, non-ferrous metals, chemicals, surveying, and scientific research”.

 

What China is today is because of its own initiative, with determination to first make the country strong single-handedly, taking help strictly on its own terms, even if isolated and ostracised to start with. The end results are there for all to see. China overtly considers India an inferior power and walks, talks and dictates from a position of strength, taking full advantage of India’s innate inability to stand up for itself.

India had, quite rightly, refused to be a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and to join RCEP. But China has, through Huawei, decided to penetrate deep inside India, thereby nullifying this country’s sovereign actions.

 

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