Huawei backs Sweden into a corner over ban review

Industry News



Chinese vendor Huawei is doing everything it can to make it impossible for Sweden to sustain its ban.

When Sweden explicitly stated that its 5G vendors can’t use Huawei kit, it created the opportunity for legal challenge that Huawei wasted little time in exploiting. Soon after Sweden appeared to concede that the decision had been legally flawed when it decided to review it, a process that is still underway.

For the review to conclude that the original decision was sound, it would presumably have to present evidence of the alleged security threat posed by Huawei. In an apparent attempt to make that process as difficult as possible, Huawei has made it clear it’s prepared to do pretty much whatever Sweden asks of it, to offer assurance to the contrary.

“We are even willing to meet extraordinary requirements, such as setting up test facilities for our equipment in Sweden, for example, if they want to,” Kenneth Fredriksen, Huawei’s Nordic head, told Reuters. “We are now in the middle of the court process, but we are willing to have pragmatic discussions.”

It’s debatable how effective even special test facilities would be, since they already exist in the UK and that didn’t help Huawei when politics superseded all other considerations. But you can’t fault Huawei’s strategy of challenging Western authorities and governments to justify their actions according to their own rule of law. In principle Huawei is entitled to exactly the same level of legal due process as anyone else in Sweden and elsewhere.

The biggest problem has is that, since political decisions are often made with little regard for due process, it doesn’t take much to sway them one way or the other. So it’s fair to say a recent report alleging Huawei worked with a Chinese AI company to test facial recognition technology that could specifically identify people of Uighur ethnicity won’t have helped its cause.

Huawei is insisting it’s just a general tech vendor in this context and provided nothing specifically customised for the end purpose, but the story feeds into the narrative around the perceived malevolence of the Chinese state and how that corrupts its companies. In the absence of hard evidence, that narrative is all the US and its allies have needed to justify their sanctions against Huawei and, as a result of this report, it has been strengthened.

Here’s a video summary of the report.

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