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Corporate decisions separate from geopolitical issues

Geopolitical issues are under the purview of the government: COAI amid India-China standoff

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New Delhi, June 18 | As the telecom department gears up to ask private telcos to gradually lower their dependence on Chinese equipment, industry body COAI on Thursday said geopolitical issues are under the purview of the government and should be kept separate from corporate decisions.

Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) — whose members include private telcos such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea — further said that so far, the government had not mandated exclusion of any vendors’ equipment from private operator networks.

When the government makes laws, companies are “duty-bound” to comply with them, it said.

In a hardening of stance in the backdrop of tensions at the Indo-China border, the government has decided to ask state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) not to use Chinese telecom gear in its 4G upgradation, which is being supported as part of the company revival package, according to sources.

The development comes at a time when Indian and Chinese armies are engaged in a standoff in Pangong Tso, Galwan Valley, Demchok, and Daulat Beg Oldie in eastern Ladakh.

The standoff has stirred anti-China sentiments in India, with protesters and some trade bodies like Confederation of All India Traders calling for a boycott of Chinese products in protest to border standoff.

The department is likely to seek tweaking of the tender in this regard. A similar message will be conveyed to Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), sources said.

Moreover, the department is even considering measures to urge private telecom operators to bring down their dependence on Chinese-made telecom equipment.

Earlier on Wednesday, Chinese handset maker Oppo canceled the Livestream launch of its flagship 5G smartphone in the country amid protests calling for the boycott of Chinese products in various parts of the country.

South Korea’s Samsung, which ranked third and cornered 15.6 percent share of shipment in the said quarter is the only non-Chinese firm in the top five tallies.

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