India has lifted restrictions on state-run telecom Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) buying telecoms gear from Chinese vendors, having addressed security concerns, junior telecoms minister Sachin Pilot said on Thursday. The government had asked BSNL in May last year not to buy equipment from Chinese vendors for use in sensitive regions near the country's land border, citing national security. Last month, the government revised telecoms licence rules saying telecom equipment vendors must allow inspection of their gear and made carriers solely responsible for the security of their networks. “Accordingly, now BSNL may enter into agreement with foreign vendors for purchase of equipment/software/services,” Pilot said, citing the revised rules, in a written reply in parliament to a question whether BSNL was barred from procuring equipment from Chinese vendors.

Earlier this year, India also barred some local mobile phone operators from placing orders with China's Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp, again on security concerns, before coming out with the revised rules. India's restrictions have centred around its suspicion that Chinese equipment might have spying technology embedded to intercept sensitive conversations and government communications. “Participation of foreign companies in strategic sector has bearing on national security,” Pilot said in the written statement. He said that as BSNL was a state-run firm, its network “has to be relied upon in emergency”.

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