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Case
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Reference no. 221-0038-1
Published by: Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford
Originally published in: 2020
Version: 20 July 2020
Length: 23 pages
Data source: Published sources

Abstract

In February 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was preparing to meet with US President Donald Trump, with the issue of 5G technology among the potentially contentious topics of discussion. India was laying the groundwork to deploy 5G telecom technology that was expected to transform its economy and society. The dominant vendor of 5G technology was China-based Huawei, which offered end-to-end solutions that were cheaper, faster, and more advanced than its competition. But several intelligence agencies in the West suspected that Huawei would install backdoors into its equipment to allow the Chinese government to conduct espionage activities. The US had banned Huawei from its own networks and was urging its allies to do the same. India, with its longstanding security concerns vis-a-vis China, was faced with a dilemma: embrace costlier and slower 5G equipment from Huawei's competitors, potentially setting back its economic targets, or develop ways to work with Huawei to address the security concerns, against American wishes. Meanwhile, COVID-19 was starting to spread worldwide, threatening to crash the global economy. Potential economic instability caused by the health crisis could seriously hinder the financing of expensive 5G projects. Amidst these conditions, Modi had to clarify his government's position on Huawei.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for postgraduate and executive education courses.

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2020.

Geographical setting

Region:
Asia
Country:
India

Featured companies

Department of Telecommunications
Type:
Government agency
Huawei
Type:
Privately held

Featured protagonist

  • Narendra Modi (male), Prime Minister of India

About

Abstract

In February 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was preparing to meet with US President Donald Trump, with the issue of 5G technology among the potentially contentious topics of discussion. India was laying the groundwork to deploy 5G telecom technology that was expected to transform its economy and society. The dominant vendor of 5G technology was China-based Huawei, which offered end-to-end solutions that were cheaper, faster, and more advanced than its competition. But several intelligence agencies in the West suspected that Huawei would install backdoors into its equipment to allow the Chinese government to conduct espionage activities. The US had banned Huawei from its own networks and was urging its allies to do the same. India, with its longstanding security concerns vis-a-vis China, was faced with a dilemma: embrace costlier and slower 5G equipment from Huawei's competitors, potentially setting back its economic targets, or develop ways to work with Huawei to address the security concerns, against American wishes. Meanwhile, COVID-19 was starting to spread worldwide, threatening to crash the global economy. Potential economic instability caused by the health crisis could seriously hinder the financing of expensive 5G projects. Amidst these conditions, Modi had to clarify his government's position on Huawei.

Teaching and learning

This item is suitable for postgraduate and executive education courses.

Settings

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2020.

Geographical setting

Region:
Asia
Country:
India

Featured companies

Department of Telecommunications
Type:
Government agency
Huawei
Type:
Privately held

Featured protagonist

  • Narendra Modi (male), Prime Minister of India

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