China warns Sweden of tit-for-tat action over telecoms ban

BEIJING • China yesterday told Sweden to reverse a ban on Chinese tech firms from its 5G network, warning of "negative impacts" if it did not.

The Swedish telecoms regulator issued a ban on Tuesday that would require carriers to remove existing Huawei and ZTE equipment by 2025, citing national security concerns.

Chinese telecoms firms have faced bans and heightened scrutiny in recent months over fears Beijing could use their overseas deals to spy on foreign citizens.

That has provoked a furious response from Beijing, which denies the allegations and says trumped-up security concerns are being used against its successful tech firms to hem them in for commercial reasons.

China's Foreign Ministry said it was "strongly dissatisfied" with Sweden's decision, accusing Stockholm of "blatantly suppressing Chinese telecoms companies and politicising normal economic cooperation".

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urged the Swedish government to "correct its wrong decision" to avoid a "negative impact on China-Sweden economic and trade cooperation, and on the operations of Swedish companies in China".

Sweden's decision comes amid pressure from the United States on its allies to cut Huawei from their Internet infrastructure.

Britain banned mobile providers from using Huawei equipment in new 5G networks in July, while France has placed heavy restrictions on the use of equipment from Huawei.

Stockholm's ban has raised fears that Beijing could retaliate against Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson, which has 5G contracts with all three major Chinese telecoms operators.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2020, with the headline 'China warns Sweden of tit-for-tat action over telecoms ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe