If India blocks Chinese telecom giant Huawei from doing business in the country, it can only be seen as a signal by New Delhi that it’s taking sides in China-US trade rivalry.
“On the issue of Chinese enterprises participating in the construction of India’s 5G, we hope the Indian side makes an independent and objective decision,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a press briefing on Tuesday, in response to a question of whether Chinese officials have said there will be sanctions on Indian companies if India blocks Huawei from its market.
Why does China attach great importance to India’s Huawei decision? That’s partly because it’s to some extent a reflection of India’s broader attitude toward China and the US. Washington has put pressure on New Delhi to act against Huawei. For example, in June, the US warned the Indian government that companies found to be supplying equipment of US origin to Huawei or its units could face punitive action, the Economic Times reported.
Chinese companies can afford to lose India’s 5G market. But if India cracks down on Huawei because of pressure from Washington, the move will send a signal that India doesn’t reject its inclusion in the US-led camp against China. This means India stands on the opposite side of China and Chinese companies amid the trade war.
India has seemingly been an advocate of the US Indo-Pacific strategy, but deep down, New Delhi has realized that the strategy represents the interests of the US instead of India. Bilateral relations between India and the US will likely grow increasingly complex during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term.
A tough test for New Delhi will be how to strike a balance between its relations with the US and China. India’s attitude toward Huawei is not just a simple matter of whether a Chinese company can enter India’s 5G market. It offers a window to observe the country’s China policy during Modi’s second term. That’s why China is closely watching the development of issues related to Huawei.
Few EU nations have clearly stated that they will ban Huawei from involvement in their 5G networks. Why? That’s because they don’t want to take sides in China-US disputes and toe the line set by the Trump administration that only serves US interests. After all, any of these countries will pay a heavy price if they become a lackey of the US.
India has to think about whether to cooperate with Huawei on 5G. If India includes itself in the US-led camp against China, the country will lose Chinese business opportunities.
(The author is a reporter with the Global Times.)
(In association with Global Times)