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Intel Wars
India to China: Stop Snooping!

While the world feigned indignation and outrage when Edward Snowden’s revelations first put the spotlight on countries spying on each other, it hardly cones as a surprise that other countries do it too. The latest controversy arose as the Indian parliament proceeded to investigate a Chinese firm on snooping charges. Livemint reports:

India has launched an investigation after a media report alleged that Chinese telecom company Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd had hacked into state-run telecom carrier Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, (BSNL) a senior government official said.

“An incident about the alleged hacking of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) network by Huawei…has come to notice,” Killi Kruparani, minister for communications and information technology, said in a written reply to a question from a member of parliament. “The government has constituted an inter-ministerial committee to investigate the matter,” the minister said on Wednesday, without giving details.

Whether it’s Australia spying on ally Indonesia, or the latest controversy over Chinese companies spying on Indian telecommunications lines, advances in communication come with people wanting access to it, with permission or without; it’s what countries do.

That said, there’s a difference between friends spying on friends – as the US was accused of doing against Germany – and geopolitical and economic rivals like China and India. The Asian giants have fought a deadly war, and are competing over markets and disputed territory. Given the extent of their rivalry, they should in fact be credited for keeping things civil; they have a strong bilateral economic relationship and security protocols to make sure border incidents don’t flare up. Which is why both countries need to proceed with caution as the investigation unfolds. Neither China nor India ought to risk a diplomatic downturn, given the circumstances. But with India gearing up for elections, China is an easy target to score political points (apart from Pakistan, of course).

The public disclosure of something that both countries do, and know that they do, should not throw regional stability off-kilter. We hope it doesn’t play out that way.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Old news: Amazing that countries would invite the fox to guard their hen-houses.

  • El Gringo

    From Huawei’s open letter following the failed 2011 3Leaf acquisition (

    “…over the past 10 years, as we have been investing in the United States, we have encountered a number of misperceptions that some hold about Huawei. These include unfounded and unproven claims of “close connections with the Chinese military,” “disputes over intellectual property rights,” “allegations of financial support from the Chinese government,” and “threats to the national security of the United States”.”

    “Since our establishment, Huawei has respected and protected the rights of all intellectual property holders while vigorously defending our own intellectual property rights.”

    “The fact that Cisco withdrew the lawsuit it filed against Huawei in 2003 regarding allegations of intellectual property rights infringement further vindicates Huawei’s position in that matter and supports our position that we are only engaged in legitimate business practices. We learned from that experience that while disputes may arise in the course of business, they can be settled properly through bilateral negotiations.”

    “The allegation that Huawei somehow poses a threat to the national security of the United States has centered on a mistaken belief that our company can use our technology to steal confidential information in the United States or launch network attacks on entities in the U.S at a specific time. There is no evidence that Huawei has violated any security rules.”

    “We believe that security problems will become more and more significant for everyone in our industry as the amount of data continues to grow rapidly. We are committed to working together with governments in all countries to take all necessary measures to protect information security.”

    “We have faith in the fairness and justness of the United States and we believe the results of any thorough government investigation will prove that Huawei is a normal commercial institution and nothing more.”

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