Sweden has banned its telecom operators from using equipment from Huawei and ZTE. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority said in a statement on October 20 that “[n]ew installations and new implementation of central functions for the radio use in the frequency bands [under auction currently] must not be carried out with products from the suppliers Huawei or ZTE.” PTS cited “assessments made by the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Security Service” to justify the ban.
“China deplores Sweden’s decision,” Zhao Lijan, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in a news briefing, according to a transcript on a government website. “With no evidence, Sweden takes national security as a pretext to slander Chinese companies, openly oppress Chinese telecom companies, and politicize normal economic cooperation, which violates the principle of a free, open, fair, just and non-discriminatory market economy that Sweden pursues, as well as the rules of international trade and investment,” Zhao added, and indicated that unless the decision was reversed, Beijing may retaliate on Swedish businesses in China.
The decision is likely a result of the US’s efforts over the last few years to wean telecom networks around the world off of Chinese hardware, something that has intensified during the US–China trade war. Recently, the US government has also said that it will offer financial incentives to developing countries that choose equipment from companies like Nokia, Ericsson and Samsung over Huawei and ZTE.