Indian officials are reportedly considering the possibility of issuing an advisory to local telecommunications companies to avoid using equipment supplied by Chinese companies. According to sources with knowledge of the matter, the country is specifically aiming to reduce its dependence on equipment produced by major Chinese suppliers, such as ZTE Corp and Huawei Technologies, given the escalating tensions between the two nations.
The same sources claim that telecom regulators are expected to launch a review of existing telecom contracts involving the two Chinese firms. This includes contracts already signed by state-owned telecom firm Mahanagar Telephone Nigam and Bharat Sanchar Nigam with the Chinese telecom equipment providers. The decision to launch the review is reportedly still under discussion.
India's Ministry of Communications has allegedly reached out to major privately held telecom companies such as Jio Infocomm and Bharti Airtel to assess their usage of equipment supplied by ZTE and Huawei. The ministry has not yet denied or confirmed the reports.
Prior to issuing a ban on Chinese telecom equipment, Indian officials are reportedly seeking the advice of foreign experts, including the FCC, to assess the possible impact of replacing its existing equipment. The assessment will include possible costs and if alternate suppliers can fulfill the demand for such equipment.
Before the rise in tensions between two of the world's most populous countries, India had been very open to having China play a bigger role in its 5G mobile network rollout. The country had allowed Huawei and other Chinese firms to participate in its 5G trials, despite the US' continued call for the country to shun the use of Chinese-made components for national security reasons.
Reports of the country's intention of reducing its use of Chinese-made telecom components comes just weeks after a fatal clash between both countries' militaries at a disputed border caused a strain in relations. Earlier this week, India announced that it will be banning the use of 59 Chinese mobile apps in what was seen as a retaliatory action in response to the border conflict. Officials stated on Monday that the ban was issued to protect the country's sovereignty and its national security.
Public opinion of China among Indians has dropped drastically, with most calling for an outright boycott of all Chinese-made products. The nationalistic fervor has led to several planned actions to reduce the country's dependence on Chinese products and curb China's access to its various industries. For Huawei, India is one of its largest telecom equipment markets and the company is heavily dependent on its sales in the country to offset its reduced business with the US and its allies.