Satellites Space

The deal between India and China’s Oppo generates security concerns

As China continues to weaken India’s control of its region in the Himalayas, a new partnership between India’s space agency and China’s Oppo has prompted security concerns. Oppo India (a local affiliate of the Chinese parent firm) announced the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Friday (December 10). The goal of the agreement is to create a nationwide NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) messaging system.

This NavIC system will be used by Oppo in future iterations of its phones which will be offered in India. According to a report in India’s SundayGuardian, while technological details have not been revealed, analysts believe Oppo is going to access customer data created by the national system.

In 2013, New Delhi established NavIC as an autonomous regional satellite navigation system to avoid a repeat of the difficulties faced by the Indian military during a border confrontation with Pakistan in the year 1999, when its request for access to worldwide satellite systems was denied by foreign countries. Even as the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) attempts to weaken India’s control of its frontiers in the Himalayan region, India’s space agency appears content to allow a Chinese tech company to participate in the project.

In January of last year, the Modi government imposed a security ban on TikTok plus up to 58 additional Chinese apps. China’s Huawei and ZTE were excluded from 5G trials by the country’s telecom ministry in May of this year. Concerned Indian MPs have quickly pointed out the new MoU’s incompatibility with the country’s national security policy:

“It astounds me no end that on the one hand, we as a nation are trying to keep them (China) off the border and decrease their exposure to Indian markets, and on the other hand, essential arms of India and national security proceed to be oblivious to the threat,” parliamentarian Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted. “China is unlawfully annexing Indian territory,” said Dr. Shama Mohamed of the opposition party, “but ISRO (India’s space agency) “links up with Chinese cellphone manufacturer Oppo for the tech R&D!” “This is really absurd.” An anonymous intelligence officer informed the SundayGuardian that the bureaucracy should have checked into it and intervened.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of the Indian Space Association (ISpA) is a watershed moment that has the potential to revolutionize India’s capabilities in producing space-grade materials and providing solutions to the developing global space sector. “The ISpA reflects a strategy in which the government develops open-access, government-controlled platforms and makes them available to industry and businesses.” “It is up to entrepreneurs to come up with fresh solutions based on this core platform,” Modi said.

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