Chinese technology giant Huawei, which is under fire in the US over alleged breach of sensitive user information, has offered to sign a “no backdoor” agreement with the Indian government to allay concerns that it might use its telecom gear for surveillance.
The move comes just a day before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to India, amid growing pressure from the US to ban Chinese 5G telecom gear globally.
Defending its position, Huawei has said it has already deployed 5G technology in India through advanced MIMO (“multiple input, multiple output”, which increases spectrum efficiency), and that the security concerns raised against it have no foundation.
Under the proposed agreement, the Indian government will have the powers to ban the Chinese company from operating in the country if there is serious evidence of security breach on its part.
India will also be free to test Huawei’s equipment for any alleged breach either on its own or through a third party (Indian or international), without informing the Chinese company. Huawei is willing to pay a compensation if there is any deficiency in the security system of its network, depending on how serious the lapse is.
The company has made similar offers to other governments that have banned or are debating an entry into 5G telephony.
For instance, in May this year, Huawei offered to ink a no-spy agreement with the British government. The company had in 2011 signed similar agreements with telcos in India, with a provision for penalties in the case of any deficiency in security mandated by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
Explaining the new offer, Huawei India Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jay Chen said: “We are inviting all telecom equipment manufacturers to sign such agreements with the government, and have conveyed that we are ready to do so with the Indian government. We are waiting for a response from it.”
On the question of the DoT’s silence on even allowing Huawei to conduct 5G trials, Chen made a strong pitch: “Japan can afford to ban China . But India cannot afford to have only a few partners for business. It has to be open to collaborating with the whole world. The decision cannot be based on the country of origin but on a standard universal policy.”