Expert Speak Digital Frontiers
Published on Oct 20, 2020
Sweden sends a 5G message to China: behave or be done with

After Australia, the US and the UK, now Sweden has banned China’s Huawei and ZTE from participating in its 5G auctions. In its 20 October 2020 press release, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority leaned on the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Security Service to explicitly ban the two Chinese companies. “New installations and new implementation of central functions for the radio use in the frequency bands must not be carried out with products from the suppliers Huawei or ZTE,” it stated. “If existing infrastructure for central functions is to be used to provide services in the concerned frequency bands, products from Huawei and ZTE must be phased out 1 January 2025 at the latest.” The January 2025 deadline shows Sweden is clearer about the security of its citizens than the UK, which has given the two companies three extra years, till end-2027, to exit — a calendar event by which 5G could be redundant and 6G commercially available.

Sweden’s decision is informed by Swedish lawyer-politician Bjorn Bjarnason’s July 2020 report titled, ‘Nordic Foreign and Security Policy 2020: Climate Change, Hybrid & Cyber Threats and Challenges to the Multilateral, Rules-Based World Order.’ The report is clear about the threat the Nordic nations face from China. “The two state actors most often mentioned as posing a threat to the Nordics in this regard are Russia and China. These states have developed effective subversive means that go much further in weakening their targets than fake news and disinformation do,” the report notes. “Apart from the illegal incursion in the South China Sea, China conducts lower key hybrid operations than Russia. It is important to conduct foreign investment screening with special emphasis on security, i.e. in 5G systems and critical infrastructure.”

The game for China Tech is getting over faster than the rising ego of the country’s Chairman of Everything, President Xi Jinping and his Chinese Communist Party. The more aggressive the Chinese state gets, the higher the barriers rise for its arms — the link of Huawei to the People’s Liberation Army is now clear <read this paper by Christopher Balding> — across democracies. As argued earlier, such bans will expand across the EU and the world and send a clear signal to this rising rogue nation: behave or be done with.

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Gautam Chikermane

Gautam Chikermane

Gautam Chikermane is a Vice President at ORF. His areas of research are economics, politics and foreign policy. A Jefferson Fellow (Fall 2001) at the East-West ...

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