Swedish court bans Huawei equipment, endangering Ericsson's business in China

A Swedish court has upheld a ban on Huawei selling 5G network equipment in the country. The move will not only delay global 5G deployment as Huawei is a major vendor, but may also put the future of Ericsson China operations in serious peril, industry analysts said. The ban gives the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) the right to shut Huawei out of the country's 5G mobile networks. The court ruling cited possible “national security” risks for the ban. The PTS failed to produce any tangible evidence to demonstrate that Huawei's 5G equipment has security issues. The latest court ruling is disappointing, but the Chinese high-tech company will continue to pursue its legitimate rights, Huawei told the Global Times. The judgment is under review, along with “the court's reasoning to determine what further legal remedies to pursue to protect the company's legitimate rights and interests,” and “our door remains open to constructive dialogue with relevant parties to work out practical solutions to mitigate any security concerns,” a Huawei spokesperson said.

Sweden itself is not a big market for Huawei, but it is critical for the company to continue to appeal to the court for a further decision to prove it is clean, Xiang Ligang, Director General of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times. The PTS stated in a submission to the court that it “has no basis for claiming that there are proven technical vulnerabilities in equipment or software from Huawei.” “We encourage relevant Swedish authorities to rely on objective, unbiased and verifiable cyber-security standards based on facts,” the Spokesperson added. In October 2020, PTS unexpectedly banned Huawei from supplying 5G equipment to Swedish telecom companies due to so-called security concerns raised by Sweden's security service SAPO, a decision that the Chinese company challenged in court.

An Ericsson statement on May 24 this year said that the PTS decision “may adversely impact the economic interests of Sweden and Swedish industry, including those of Ericsson.” Chinese mobile operators invited Ericsson to participate in their 5G equipment testing, offering the Swedish vendor an opportunity to “interview” for access to China's 5G market. It could be the last chance for Sweden to reverse its decision. Cui Hongjian, Director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times that the lack of solid evidence for banning Chinese companies may eventually put Swedish companies such as Ericsson at risk, the Global Times reports.