China on Wednesday expressed “concern and regret” after India’s Department of Telecommunications kept Chinese firms out of the list of those part of 5G technology and spectrum trials.

“To exclude Chinese telecommunications companies from the trials will not only harm their legitimate rights and interests, but also hinder the improvement of the Indian business environment,” Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in India Wang Xiaojin said.

He also noted that Chinese companies operating in India have provided job opportunities and contributed to the country’s “infrastructure construction in telecommunications”.

The Chinese spokesperson’s statement came after India’s Department of Telecommunications approved a list of telecom service providers for conducting trials for use and applications of 5G technology in India. The companies that received the permission included Bharti Airtel, Reliance JioInfocomm, Vodafone Idea and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, or MTNL.

Network providers such as Indian government-run C-DOT, Sweden-based Ericsson, Finnish telecommunications company Nokia and South Korean firm Samsung were also granted approval to conduct trials across the country for six months.

However, Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE didn’t find a place in the trials. India’s Department of Telecommunication did not specify the reason for their exclusion.

In the backdrop of tensions along the Indo-China border, New Delhi has cracked down on technology from the neighbouring country. In September 2020, the Centre banned 118 Chinese mobile apps, suggesting they were “engaged in activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India and security and the security of state and public order”. Earlier, the Indian government had banned 59 Chinese apps in June 2020. Then in July, 47 applications that were clones of the blocked apps were also banned.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in the United States have applauded India’s decision to not allow Chinese telecom companies to conduct 5G trials in the country, PTI reported.

“India’s decision to exclude Huawei and ZTE from its 5G trials is good news for the people of India and the world,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican and China Task Force Chairman Michael McCaul said in a statement on Wednesday. “People’s Republic of China law requires any Chinese company including Huawei and ZTE to work for the Chinese Communist Party.”

Congressman Mike Waltz also thanked India for its decision. “As the world’s largest democracy, India will be a critical ally in confronting China and securing our supply chains,” he said.

India-China tensions

Border tensions between the two countries flared up in June 2020 after clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clashes. China identified the casualties on its side only in February this year, saying that four soldiers died.

After several rounds of talks failed to resolve the matter for months, the disengagement process along Pangong Tso in Ladakh began on February 10 after military commanders began pulling out troops, tanks and artillery from the area in the first step towards full withdrawal. Even as that process was completed, reports suggested that China has refused to withdraw its troops from Hot Springs and Gogra Post, two other friction points.