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Last Chance: Sweden's Ericsson May Be Blocked From China's 5G Networks Amid Huawei Ban, Report Says

© AFP 2023 / Maja SuslinFlags with the logo of telecoms equipment maker Ericsson outside company's headquarters in Stockholm on October 4, 2016
Flags with the logo of telecoms equipment maker Ericsson outside company's headquarters in Stockholm on October 4, 2016 - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.05.2021
The news comes after Swedish authorities excluded Huawei from spectrum auctions and building national 5G infrastructure along with numerous Five Eyes nations, citing alleged national security concerns. The decision has sparked criticism from Beijing, who could potentially retaliate by blocking the Swedish telecom from China's 5G networks.

Chinese telcos have invited Ericsson to join 5G tests in a final 'interview' process, Global Times reported this week, citing a source familiar with the matter.

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The source added Ericsson's participation in tests with Chinese mobile operators would not guarantee authorities in Beijing would approve Ericsson, adding Sweden should reconsider its policy on China.

According to the source, Sweden's decision to exclude Chinese telecoms such as Huawei from the nation's 5G deployment, namely without facts or evidence, was arbitrary and very "bad in nature".

The invitation was just an "interview opportunity" rather than an official hiring of the Swedish firm as the Chinese people would not tolerate "vicious deeds against them", the source said.

The source added: "Sweden has excluded Huawei, while Ericsson is planning to continue to take orders in China, which is tantamount to 'smashing the bowls' of Chinese companies. However, they still want their own companies to continue to eat the 'cake' of Chinese market. Will the 1.4 billion Chinese people agree?"

The news comes as China's four top telecoms - China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Broadcasting Network Corporation - have begun 5G testing across the country, with both domestic and foreign telecoms such as Huawei, ZTE, Nokia, Ericsson and others joining the tests.

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The source added Ericsson did not have advantages over domestic and foreign 5G equipment providers such as Huawei, Nokia and ZTE. But analysts added Ericsson had "fair" access to the Chinese market.

"China has been providing a fair environment for Ericsson's operations in China despite the Huawei issue," Xiang Ligang, Information Consumption Alliance director-general told the Global Times.

According to Xiang, Ericsson and Nokia accounted for up to 20 percent of China's 5G market to date.

Sweden Moves to Block Huawei

The news comes after the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) banned Huawei and ZTE from 5G spectrum auctions in October last year, citing national security concerns, without further explanation.

Huawei appealed the decision in January, but the move was dismissed by Swedish courts.

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Ericsson chief executive Borje Ekholm has repeatedly criticised the decision and warned he may relocate the firm, citing the need for fairer market practices and increased competition to push tech innovation.

Mr Ekholm has also stated the decision would delay Sweden's national 5G rollout due to fewer entrants.

Numerous countries have banned the two Chinese telecom giants amid the ongoing trade war with China, including India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, citing alleged national security concerns the kit could be used to spy for the Chinese government.

Execs from Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese tech firms have repeatedly and strongly denied the allegations and stated countries have failed to provide evidence on the matter.

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