China Envoy, Telecom Executives Pitch to Indian Government

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Executives from Chinese telecommunications equipment company ZTE met India's home secretary, G.K. Pillai, on Thursday as part of their bid to convince the Indian government that buying from the company is not a security risk.

Representatives from another Chinese telecom equipment vendor, Huawei Technologies, have also been meeting Indian government officials, a company spokesman said. "We have conveyed to them our point of view," he said.

The Indian government has so far not given any firm assurances to the two vendors, according to informed sources.

The Chinese ambassador to India, Zhang Yan, also met Pillai on Thursday, according to media reports.

The Chinese equipment vendors say Indian service providers have been blocked from buying their equipment by the Indian government, which is citing security reasons. The Huawei spokesman said purchases of its equipment by service providers have been blocked by the government since February.

India and China went to war in 1962, and strained relations over a border dispute between the two countries increased last year.

In May last year, the Indian government, for example, ordered government-owned telecom service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) not to place equipment orders from Chinese companies for deployments in networks in sensitive border areas.

The country's Department of Telecommunications (DOT) made it compulsory late last year for Indian service providers to get a security clearance from the DOT for equipment and software that they plan to purchase from foreign suppliers.

Huawei and ZTE claim that orders placed by service providers have been blocked after the DOT order. A DOT spokesman, however, said last month that there was no ban on equipment from any specific country, but all equipment orders had to go through a security clearance under the new rules.

The Chinese companies have meanwhile announced plans to hire more local staff in India and to expand their facilities here as part of their bid to win over the Indian government.

ZTE said on Wednesday that it has a management team in the country that consisted of Indians and over 90 percent of its staff was Indian. Huawei said that 85 percent of its staff was Indian, and the company was planning to increase the number of Indians in the local operation.

Huawei invited media to visit its research and development operation in Bangalore on Wednesday, after an Indian newspaper reported that Indian staff were prevented from entering parts of the facility that were reserved only for its Chinese employees. Huawei has denied the report.

India is currently running an auction for 3G spectrum. The government has promised to issue spectrum to winning bidders by September, which is expected to bring large opportunities for equipment vendors.

"We sincerely hope the Indian Government will soon issue clear regulations for a security test," ZTE said on Wednesday.

The Huawei spokesman said that the company wants a level playing field for all equipment vendors.

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