In the first such security clearance granted to a Chinese telecommunications company in the past couple of years, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cleared a proposal from Huawei Telecommunications (India) Pvt Ltd for setting up a manufacturing unit in Tamil Nadu for its components. The government’s clearance, however, is subject to the telecommunications company fulfilling security conditions.
Huawei had first approached the government in 2013, seeking clearance to set up a unit for electronics or telecom hardware and support services, including trading and logistics activities, at SIPCOT Special Economic Zone at Sriperumbudur. The MHA cleared the proposal last week, following which it will be taken up by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.
Over the past couple of years, proposals from Chinese telecom firms had been rejected outright owing to apprehensions about embedded malware and bugs. The security clearance granted to Huawei was the first since 2013 at least, MHA sources said.
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“The idea now is to increase economic engagement with China, so that over the next decade, the Chinese develop vested interests in stable relations with India, and there are lower chances of aggressive intent. The hope is that in the long run, increased economic engagement will also lead to cooperation from China on issues such as terrorism. This is just a start, and the investment involved is only around Rs 25 crore” said a source.
One of the conditions laid down while granting the security clearance is that critical positions in the manufacturing unit such as the officer in charge of technical operations and the chief security officer be reserved for Indians. In case the posts of Chairman, Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer or CFO are held by foreign nationals, security clearance of the the MHA will be mandatory.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will also specify certain security, technical and quality parameters for technical equipment relating to networking systems. There will also be regular testing and audit of networks. The MHA has already written to the DoT, asking it to set up state-of-the-art laboratories and certification facilities for security certification of foreign equipment entering the domestic market.
Union Home Secretary L C Goyal had last month approved a new ‘security clearance policy’ for faster clearances to security proposals from other ministries.