The government on Wednesday hinted at blacklisting a section of telecom equipment vendors even as border tensions with China keep defence forces on their toes.
Effectively it means the telecom sector will be given a list of companies from which they can buy products and services. “So there’s a trusted source and there’s a not-trusted source,” said Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security.
“The government will declare a list of trusted sources or products for the benefit of telecom service providers. This is necessary to maintain the integrity of supply chain security. It is a matter of national security,” the minister said.
Experts say the decision could have been taken to keep suspect Chinese vendors away for security reasons.
Prasad dodged questions when asked if the government’s decision was aimed at putting restrictions on Chinese vendors. The minister, however, said the decision won’t impact existing telecom equipment vendors and operators.
So far, the government has banned several Chinese mobile apps citing threat to nations’ security and integrity.
Indian and Chinese troops have been locked in a standoff along the LAC at Ladakh since April this year. The two countries have had several rounds of military and diplomatic dialogues in which India has demanded that the Chinese troops restore status quo.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar recently said that India-China ties have been “very significantly damaged” because of Beijing’s violation of agreements on maintaining peace and tranquility on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The external affairs minister said the Chinese violated all agreements and brought in tens of thousands of soldiers to the LAC in Ladakh sector.
“We are today probably at the most difficult phase of our relationship with China, certainly in the last 30 to 40 years…or even more,” he said, noting that the 20 Indian soldiers killed in the clash at Galwan Valley in June were the first military casualties on the LAC since 1975.