China puts Sweden on notice following Huawei, ZTE decision

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Oct. 21 (UPI) — China warned Sweden against taking measures to ban Huawei and ZTE, a day after the Swedish Telecom Authority issued a deadline on removing Chinese technology.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Wednesday at a regular press briefing Beijing “deplores Sweden’s decision.” Huawei and ZTE have been abiding by Swedish law while contributing to Swedish infrastructure, Zhao said.

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“China’s market is open to all European companies, including Swedish businesses,” Zhao said. “With no evidence, Sweden takes national security as a pretext to slander Chinese companies, openly oppress Chinese telecom companies and politicize normal economic cooperation.”

The Chinese spokesman also said Sweden should correct its “mistake” and “avoid negative impact on China-Sweden economic cooperation.”

Concern is growing Beijing could retaliate against companies like Sweden’s telecom giant Ericsson, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday.

Tim Rühlig, an analyst with the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, said Sweden banned Huawei in the “most explicit way possible,” according to the Post. Sweden’s telecom authority has given a Jan. 1, 2025 deadline for all companies participating in a spectrum auction in November to remove Huawei and ZTE equipment. The auction sells rights to transmit signals over specific bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Sweden’s stern warning comes after a Chinese decision this year to sentence Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen, to 10 years in prison. Gui is a Hong Kong-based businessman who sold books critical of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Communist Party.

Sweden is not alone in banning Huawei amid U.S. calls for a “clean network” that prevents suspected Chinese government surveillance via Chinese-built networks. Chinese state media has condemned the policy as a “dirty play” by Washington.

Britain banned Huawei from its 5G network in July. In France, operating authorization will be limited to eight years for firms using Huawei equipment, according to Euronews.