- Dr Gulrez Sheikh
Before we get into specifics, let us discuss what critical infrastructure means? Critical infrastructure is the one, which, when disrupted, has the potential of adversely affecting a country’s security, economy, transportation etc.
Power of 5G technology and how is it critical for a nation- The power of 5G is its 100 times more speed than 4G, enabling the always-on firms, highly mobile consumers and fully connected national and global societies/markets. 5G is a vehicle for the new industrial revolution, inflow and outflow of information, smart cities and citizens, telemedicine and telesurgery, driverless transport and things ranging from refrigeration to babysitting. It enables complex networks to interact with each other with a minimal relative period. Hence it becomes a critical infrastructure.
Now coming to Huawei, looking at its price list, it is the best player for 5G hardware. But there are risks involved with this good cheaper option. The Chinese Intelligence Law is enough to raise goosebumps, under which the Chinese citizens and companies are bound to and even incentivised to gather intelligence for the state of China, also when operating outside the country.
Article 9 of Chinese Intelligence Law says that “the state gives commendation and awards to individuals and organisations that make major contributions to the national intelligence effort”.
Article 14 of Chinese Intelligence Law says that “the state intelligence work organisation shall carry out intelligence work according to law, and may require relevant organs, organisations and citizens to provide the necessary support, assistance and cooperation”.
So any Chinese firm or even an individual legally becomes an intelligence-gathering tool. Hence for considerations of the national security, any Chinese citizen/organisation/company needs to be seen as an extension of the Chinese deep-state. Now combine this with China’s support to Pakistan, its constant foster of animosity for India vis a vis neighbouring countries, its opposition to India joining the UNCS, tensions on our eastern front, makes a very strong case against Huawei. Thus India should not allow Huawei to enter the country for the sake of national security.
The countries like US, UK, Australia, France etc. have banned Huawei for the reason of national security, but India’s case is different from them, as none of them shares a border with China. So even if (in coming months, irrespective of who’s in the Oval Office) they allow Huawei, we shouldn’t.
But as per my view, we should not ban Huawei either. Let it act as a price watchdog for 5G hardware providers like Nokia, Ericsson etc., but Indian companies won’t give a contract to Huawei because of public sentiments against China. We have only four telecom companies including BSNL, and to save money, none can dare to go against consumer sentiments and loose customers.