India appears to have given the green light to plans to ban Chinese telecom vendors from supplying kit to local operators, reports India’s Financial Chronicle newspaper. A total of 26 firms are on the restricted list, 25 of them Chinese firms, including major names such as Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo China. The other banned firm is based in Israel. According to the report, Indian telecom companies have been informally told of the decision, pending a formal notification of the list of banned equipment suppliers. Any local firm defying the ban will attract criminal proceedings and will be heavily fined. The decision comes after a year of deliberations and internal debate on the issue. Security agencies successfully demonstrated to the government the fact that Chinese equipment and software “had black boxes, malware, trap doors, remote or hidden attack facilities through computerised command and control, rendering Indian telecom networks vulnerable.” Top Chinese government officials and senior executives from some of the major Chinese firms – including Huawei and ZTE – had met top Indian officials in May in an attempt to avert a ban.
According to the report, the ban goes beyond a new security vetting policy announced in March. Since then, telecom companies have put forth as many as 477 proposals for import of software, telecom equipment and spares. Only 29 have been cleared, while seven have been rejected because they involve the import of Chinese software and equipment.