India seeks ownership details of Chinese telecom firm


New Delhi: The union home ministry Thursday sought ownership details and some other information from a Chinese firm to process its plea for security clearance to export telecom equipments to India.

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“The ownership details and other additional information of the Chinese firm Zhing Zhong Tyelecom Equipment ZTE was sought by Home Secretary G.K. Pillai during his meeting with a ZTE delegate,” said a senior home ministry official.

The official added that the ZTE has promised to provide the details to the government within a fortnight after which the ministry will process its plea for security clearance within another fortnight.

“The matter will be sorted out within 30 days or so,” said the home ministry official, adding that the details have been sought to find out whether the firm has any connection with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) or is being run by any of its former officials.

If the firm is a listed company and has no dubious antecedent or security concerns, the government will have no problem in providing the security clearance to them, the official said.

Earlier reports said that some of the Chinese telecom firms are virtual subsidiaries of the PLA, raising security concerns in India.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan met the home secretary Thursday on the same issue.

Pillai told the envoy that he has met the telecom firm ZTE delegates and “the ministry is looking into the matter with right earnest”.

Zhang had a 45-minute meeting with Pillai.

“We had useful talks. I hope all the issues will be resolved,” said Zhang after the meeting at Pillai’s office in North Block.

Earlier in the day, a top official of ZTE India, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp, met Pillai in the backdrop of security issues related to India’s import of Chinese telecom equipment.

“We have appealed to the Indian government. We have put forward our thoughts, let’s see,” D.K. Ghosh, ZTE India chairman and managing director, told reporters.

Ghosh said the meeting was held in a positive environment.

On being questioned Wednesday over the curbs on the import of Chinese telecom equipment to India, Ghosh said: “We have no formal communication but what we have learnt from the telecom operators is that certain companies, including ZTE, have not met the security tests.”

“We offer our full cooperation to the Indian government. We fully understand and respect their security concerns and we will adhere to the security norms, policies and requirements of the government,” he said.

ZTE India has a manufacturing facility in Manesar, Haryana, which is more into repairs, maintenance and logistics. It imports telecom equipment and handsets from China.

It has two engineering centres and a research and development centre with main office located in Gurgaon.

Chinese equipments are cheaper than what the US and European companies offer. Almost all telecom companies like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone and state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd import equipment from Chinese suppliers, including ZTE.