Sweden and Estonia bar Chinese tech from 5G networks

By on 21/10/2020
Image of laptop on desk
There has been concerted US pressure on international governments to drop Huawei from national infrastructure amid data security concerns. Photo credit: Dmitry Rodionov via Unsplash

Sweden and Estonia have become the latest European countries to ban the use of equipment from Chinese telecommunications firms in 5G national infrastructure.

The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) announced yesterday that both Huawei and ZTE will be prohibited from involvement in building Sweden’s 5G network ahead of a spectrum auction taking place next month. Tech from the two firms is also to be removed from existing infrastructure by January 2025, according to reports in Bloomberg.

A PTS statement said the “influence of China’s one-party state over the country’s private sector brings with it strong incentives for privately owned companies to act in accordance with state goals and the communist party’s national strategies.”

Estonias out

Earlier this month, Chinese telecoms giant Huawei called on the Estonian government to review draft regulation which will see the tech firm banned from the country’s communication networks. The Estonian regulation deems tech from manufacturers located outside of the European Union, NATO and OECD member states as high risk. If adopted, it will require all infrastructure and software used in the 5G network to be risk-free by 2024 and removed from infrastructure by the end of the decade.

But according to reports in ERR News, Huawei claims the Estonian government has not fully considered the economic impact of such a move and is calling for a review. The firm also alleges there are issues with the draft regulation relating to the Estonian Constitution, EU law and World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Meanwhile, other European countries such as France and the UK have recently put similar restrictions in place amid an ongoing US campaign to prevent Huawei from accessing allies’ 5G networks. The US government says the equipment could be used by Chinese authorities for state espionage.

Clean Network

In August, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled the “Clean Network”, a global initiative to prohibit Chinese tech companies from involvement in national 5G networks, and called for “all freedom-loving” nations to join the programme.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that commercial operators in Belgium are dropping Huawei from telecoms contracts in favour of Finnish firm Nokia. Commenting on the move, Keith Krach, US undersecretary at the State Department for economic growth, energy and the environment, hailed it as “the latest example of evaporating Huawei deals and further confirmation of this worldwide momentum towards trusted vendors.”

However, not all countries have been as receptive to US pressure to exclude Chinese tech companies. Japan recently said it could not participate in a strategy that excludes firms based on their nation of origin, Total Telecom reported. And last week South Korea rejected Washington’s calls to ban Huawei equipment outright, with officials telling Yonhap News Agency reporters “we made it clear that whether a private telecom company uses the equipment of a specific enterprise is up to that company to decide.”

The official added: ”But regarding the general security risks posed by the 5G technology in the telecommunication market, we agreed to work closely with the US side and cooperate in terms of technological issues.”

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

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