• America is having a hard time convincing India to reject Huawei’s 5G technology, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The US has been lobbying other countries to freeze out Huawei on the grounds that it believes the company could be acting as a proxy for the Chinese government, acting as a backdoor through which to carry out espionage. Huawei denies this.
  • An Indian official told the Journal that Huawei “can’t be ignored” because it is at the forefront of 5G technology.

America’s international lobbying efforts to curb Chinese phone giant Huawei’s growth have hit a brick wall in the form of the world’s largest democracy — India.

The Wall Street Journal reported that pressure from the US hasn’t been enough to persuade India to pass on Huawei’s 5G technology just yet.

The US has been consistently lobbying allied countries to freeze out Huawei from their upcoming 5G networks, as it maintains that the company could act as a proxy for the Chinese government to carry out espionage.

Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei this week told the BBC that Huawei doesn’t provide the Chinese Communist Party with any “backdoors” through which to spy.

Read more: “There’s no way the US can crush us”: Huawei’s founder issued a defiant message to Trump’s administration

At least some allies are taking US concerns about Huawei on board. Britain has indicated it could safely deploy Huawei’s 5G technology, but has criticised the Chinese firm for being slow to address security worries. US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said in a press conference in Hungary that it would be “more difficult” for the US to partner with nations that didn’t distance themselves from Huawei.

But Germany is leaning towards allowing Huawei to participate in building its 5G networks.

The Journal reports that India could be the US’s toughest challenge. With a rapidly expanding online population, India is an enormous market and it would be a major win for Huawei, though the firm’s presence there is still relatively small.

A memo sent earlier this month from India’s Home Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office and the head of the National Security Council — parts of which were read out to the Journal — said the US had been in touch. “The US side is concerned,” it said.

An unnamed senior Indian official with knowledge of the matter told the Journal that India is keen to take advantage of 5G, and might ignore America’s warnings about Huawei to do so.

“Huawei is today at the frontier on 5G and so can’t be ignored… All technologies have security concerns and vulnerabilities, so singling out Huawei won’t be correct.” They also said that India would select its 5G vendors, “on our terms, not under pressure [from the US].”

The same source said US officials have been lobbying for India to engage with American rivals to Huawei, such as Qualcomm.

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