Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump visited India for two days. During the visit, he held a meeting with the country’s top businessmen in the country’s capital.
At this roundtable, India‘s richest man and owner of the country’s biggest telecom company, — Reliance Jio — Mukesh Ambani, boasted about not using any Chinese components in his mobile network:
We’re the only network in the world that doesn’t have a single Chinese component. It doesn’t have it.
In response, Trump said, “Well, that’s good. Good. Put a bid in (to build a 5G network).”
Just to give you context, Reliance Jio has more than 380 million mobile subscribers in India. That’s probably bigger than top carriers in the US such as Verizon and T-Mobile combined, given that the country’s population is roughly only 330 million. India presently counts 1.16 billion mobile subscribers across all carriers.
While Ambani had no reason to mention this fact, it would’ve surely pleased Trump, who’s been vocal against using Huawei components in telecom infrastructure for fear of the Chinese government listening in. Last year, the US President put the Chinese company on the blacklist, barring it from conducting business with US-based firms. The US government is also reportedly set to publish a new ruling that may bar foreign companies from supplying goods to Huawei.
Ambani, meanwhile, has continuously encouraged steps taken by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the economic and manufacturing sectors to boost local enterprises. He has also said in the past that “Indian data must be collected by Indians,” in support of data localization.
There’s a worldwide fear of Huawei and other Chinese companies working for the country’s government and sending sensitive data over the Great Wall. Several countries have banned the Chinese giant from supplying network components. A recent report by Livemint also suggests that the Department of Telecom (DoT) of India gained the power to ban Chinese players from participating in government projects.
Ambani also has a lot of investments in the US in various verticals including energy production. While his remarks might not do his overseas businesses any immediate favors, it’s no surprise a multi-billionaire like him wants to be in Trump’s good books.