Huawei Technologies is currently a bit of a pariah in the rest of the world after the United States alleged that the telecoms equipment and mobile phone manufacturer is involved in spying on behalf of the Chinese government. In fact, the US had gone so far as to warn key allies from barring Huawei from creating next-generation networks. However, in a startling development, one of US’s key allies in Asia, Thailand has given the go-ahead for a 5G Testbed that is being built by Huawei. Thailand was the US’s first ally in the continent, and the 5G Test Bed will also be the first of its kind in Asia.
However, in this regard, it is important to point out that just because the 5G Test Bed is being built, it does not mean that the Thai authorities are not bothered about the security threats. Pichet Durongkaveroj, who is the Minister of Digital Economy, spoke to Reuters and said, “We keep a close watch on the allegations worldwide. However, this 5G testbed project is a testing period for the country. We can make observations which will be useful to either confirm or disconfirm the allegations.” Pichet was asked if the US contacted the Thai government regarding this project, but he said that he had no knowledge of any such thing.
Huawei has consistently denied the American allegation that it is involved in espionage activities for the Chinese government. The United States embassy in Thailand, however, did speak about the issue. A spokesperson said, “We routinely urge allies and partners to consider such risks and exercise similar vigilance in ensuring the security of their own telecoms networks and supply chains, including when awarding contracts.” Huawei Thailand hit back with a statement of its own. It said, “There is no evidence indicating that our equipment posed a security threat, no matter in Thailand or globally.”
The test site located in Chonburi and this regard it is necessary to keep in mind that Huawei is not the only company which has set up a testbed. Other than Huawei, several Thai telecom operators, Nokia and Ericsson have also set up their testbeds. However, considering the fact that Huawei is the world’s biggest manufacturer of telecom equipment, it is perhaps a safe bet that they are definitely one of the frontrunners in the whole exercise. According to people familiar with the matter, the Chinese company is also negotiating with companies in Thailand in order to create local tie-ups before they can roll out the product at some point in 2020.