China's Huawei Overcomes Opposition in India

In the U.S., Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei Technologies is encountering new opposition from Republican senators. Huawei has had its share of political problems in India, too, with New Delhi putting Huawei and Chinese rival ZTE on a blacklist earlier this year because security officials worried about the risk of Chinese infiltration. “The Indians are incredibly paranoid about China,” David Zweig, a professor of politics at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, told me at the time. (Read that story here.)

But the Chinese company is making progress in overcoming opposition in that market, with the Indian government easing up on its ban. On Monday, Indian operator Tata Teleservices said it is buying 3G equipment from Huawei. This comes just a few weeks after Huawei announced an earlier deal with the Indian operator to provide CDMA equipment in Mumbai.

Indian security concerns aren’t limited to Huawei and other Chinese companies, of course. Look at what RIM has had to go through in order to keep New Delhi from kicking the BlackBerry out of India. Huawei’s breakthrough is probably a sign that the company made enough concessions to satisfy India’s security officials. It’s also a sign, though, that for all the rhetoric about the threat from China, Indian companies can’t afford not to do business with Chinese suppliers. As Insead professor (and sometimes columnist) Anil Gupta told me a few months ago, Chinese equipment makers like Huawei enjoy a big price advantage over Western competitors. “We are talking about very competitive tech at 30% lower price; in a very capital intensive biz, that is important,” he said. As Indians look to spend to fix their woeful infrastructure, “India as market becomes the most attractive for capital goods from China. And because of China’s cost advantage, China becomes the most attractive supplier base.” For the two Asian giants, that co-dependence could help both countries put aside their past hostilities and work together.

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