5G: Huawei and Zte banned in Sweden too

Huawei 5G is further and further away from Europe. It seems that European countries are gradually turning their backs on the Chinese society, following overseas recommendations on (not) doing business with Beijing. The former US president, Donald Trump, had in fact been waging a war against the use of Chinese technologies for some time. Already in May 2019 he had banned, through an executive order, the possibility for American companies to use telecommunications equipment produced by Huawei and ZTE because the use of Chinese IT products would constitute “extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States”.

Trump had repeatedly reminded his European allies to be careful in matters of business with the People’s Republic led by Xi Jinping. And apparently, one after another, European countries are forming a common front against the Chinese company. 

The event involving Huawei Polish sales manager arrested in January 2019 on charges of espionage, also played a part in killing the deal. After a while, Poland’s president stated that he was opposed to the presence of Chinese operators in the infrastructure sector. Boris Johnson announced this summer that Huawei would be banned from the UK 5G network. Then it was the turn of Belgium where the two main operators (Proximus and Orange) reported that they turned to Nokia for 5G infrastructures, also notifying that the Huawei products currently in use would be progressively replaced by others supplied by Nokia and Ericsson. Just a few days ago came the first official confirmation of the German defense minister, Kramp-Karrenbauer, who said in an interview with the Sidney Morning Herald: “Germany is fundamentally open investments from all sides. But if the technology we are being offered is not blameless, it cannot be used”.

Now it is Sweden that bans Huawei and Zte’s technologies. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) has indeed ruled that their equipment for 5G networks will be banned. The ban came following a study by the armed forces and intelligence services that described China as “one of the greatest threats to Sweden”.

The Authority has in fact imposed on telecommunications companies that are requesting access to the new networks, that “new installations and new implementation of central functions for the radio use in the frequency bands must not be carried out with products from the suppliers Huawei or ZTE.”

PTS also established that if the existing infrastructures are to be used to provide 5G network services, the Huawei and ZTE products already installed will have to be phased out and replaced by 1 January 2025. 

Immediately after came the response from China which threatened consequences for Swedish companies. The spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said: “Sweden should adopt an objective and impartial attitude, correct its bad decision, in order to avoid negative impacts on economic and trade cooperation between China and Sweden and on the operations of Swedish companies in China”. In fact, Huawei seems to have appealed against 5G network ban in Sweden.

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