Chinese gear continues to be imported to India unlawfully – report

Industry association calls for stronger enforcement of existing policies to prevent unlawful imports and use of Chinese networking gear.

Gagandeep Kaur, Contributing Editor

May 2, 2024

2 Min Read
Indian flag above a city, with the sky in the background
(Source: Shivam Kumar/Pixabay)

Domestic telecom gear makers have sought stringent measures from the Indian government to prevent rampant imports and use of the Chinese networking equipment.

The Voice of Indian Communication Technology Enterprises (VoICE), an industry association representing Indian telecom gear manufacturers including Tejas Networks, STL, HFCL and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), has raised concerns that telecom gear is being imported from China, potentially posing significant security risks.

In its report, "Case Study on Telecom Imports from China," the organization highlights several practices that are being used to circumvent Indian rules and regulations to import Chinese equipment. 

"There are several modus operandi being adopted by the companies to import telecom gear from China. For instance, changing the label from China-made to India-made, asking for a one-time relaxation to the Trusted Source mandate of the Government and altering the spelling and description of the gear to avoid paying Basic Customs Duty (BCD), among others," Rakesh Bhatnagar, director general of VoICE, told Light Reading.

"All this is compromising the security of our networks and is not in keeping with the principles of Atma Nirbhar Bharat [self-reliant India]," he adds. 

Trusted sources

The association also alleges that companies are finding ways to sidestep the government's land border policy. According to this policy, companies from countries sharing a land border with India can bid in the country only if they are registered with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). They are also required to get clearance from the ministries of external affairs and home affairs.

According to VoICE, as much as 40% of the country's demand for networking equipment is being met by Chinese-manufactured products. This is despite the land-border policy and the mandate that telcos can use only equipment from companies certified as a "trusted sources" by the government.

Over the last few years, the government has tried to make it tough for Chinese vendors such as Huawei and ZTE to do business in India. It has also encouraged the Indian telcos to use gear manufactured in India to promote domestic manufacturing and to ensure the security of the communications networks.

VoICE has also called for the review of the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal where it alleges Chinese products are being sold with Indian names.  

The widespread use of Chinese network equipment is seen as a potential hindrance to Indian rivals trying to increase domestic sales. The Indian government needs to ensure adherence to existing rules if it is to prevent the use of Chinese gear in the country's communications networks. 

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Gagandeep Kaur

Contributing Editor

With more than a decade of experience, Gagandeep Kaur Sodhi has worked for the most prominent Indian communications industry publications including Dataquest, Business Standard, The Times of India, and Voice&Data, as well as for Light Reading. Delhi-based Kaur, who has knowledge of and covers a broad range of telecom industry developments, regularly interacts with the senior management of companies in India's telecom sector and has been directly responsible for delegate and speaker acquisition for prominent events such as Mobile Broadband Summit, 4G World India, and Next Generation Packet Transport Network.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like