The US Justice Department on Monday charged Chinese telecom giant Huawei and its CFO Meng Wanzhou — currently under the watch of law enforcers in Canada after being arrested at the behest of the US — for trade and financial violations and attempt to steal intellectual property. The indictment escalated the pressure on the Chinese company, which is increasingly being firewalled by many countries. However, India has so far not mulled any action against the firm.
Huawei is the world’s largest telecom equipment maker, providing the technological backbone of data services across the world. But it is viewed as being too close to Communist Party of China. With the world moving to 5G — which could integrate telecom with every smart gadget, cars, industries and more — the fear is Huawei could give Beijing a backdoor entry to crucial information.
Huawei has strongly rejected the allegations has even offered a review of its equipment. But the arrest of Wanzhou, the daughter of the company’s founder, and the indictment have escalated the situation. The indictments, citing company’s internal emails, describe a plot to steal testing equipment from T-Mobile. They also cite internal memos obtained from Meng that links her to a bank fraud that helped Huawei evade Iran sanctions. It has been argued that Huawei tried to hamper investigation by destroying evidence and moving staff out of the US. This, and the arrest of an employee in Poland on a separate case regarding spying for China has put the company firmly in the dock.
The US has long blocked Huawei from much of its market. It’s a policy that was followed by Australia and being mulled by Britain. Even Japan has excluded Huawei and ZTE from 5G business. The outlier is India, and officials in New Delhi have so far argued Huawei is not the only company to source products from China. But the indictment shows the matter is deeper, it’s about the very ethos of the company.
India, however, has sought to sail the other way so far, despite its track record on data protection not being good.