The Swedish government’s ban on using the equipment of Chinese telecommunications giants Huawei and ZTE to build a 5G network on its territory turned out to be a failure for the kingdom itself, giving China an unexpected ally. The Chinese companies were defended by their competitor in the Swedish market – the local manufacturer Ericsson, Dagens Nyheter reports.
The Swedish Ericsson, along with the Finnish Nokia, was supposed to become the main beneficiary of the restrictions on Huawei, which were introduced by the Postal and Telecommunications Agency (PTS). However, the head of Ericsson, Borje Ekholm, in January 2021, appealed to the country’s foreign trade minister Anna Hallberg with a demand to help lift the ban. Otherwise, not only Huawei but also Ericsson may leave Sweden, the top manager hinted.
A spokesman for Ekholm confirmed to Bloomberg that he spoke with Hallberg. For her part, the minister stressed that she did not meet with the top manager and did not have any contacts with PTS. Hallberg added that she would never use her position to influence the decision of a separate department.
The PTS imposed a ban on Huawei and ZTE equipment in October 2020. Huawei’s close ties with the Chinese military and fears that the company could share data collected in the kingdom with the Chinese government. China then threatened to respond to Stockholm’s actions, complicating Swedish companies’ position in its market. About 10 per cent of Ericsson’s telecommunications equipment sales come from China. Besides, the company relies heavily on Chinese subcontractors. In Sweden, Ericsson employs 13,000 people.