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.