Saturday, 29 February 2020

Telenor’s Huawei snub could scupper Norway–China free trade deal

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Tuesday 11 February 20

China has announced its displeasure at Telenor’s decision to use Ericsson for 5G over Huawei

Last December, Telenor choose Ericsson for its 5G network, passing over Huawei who had been the leading candidate since 2017.    China was quick to respond by calling this choice “deliberate discrimination”, hinting that China may put the squeeze on its trade relationship with Norway as a result.   The Norwegian government has since replied to explain that Telenor&rsquo…

Last December, Telenor choose Ericsson for its 5G network, passing over Huawei who had been the leading candidate since 2017. 
 
China was quick to respond by calling this choice “deliberate discrimination”, hinting that China may put the squeeze on its trade relationship with Norway as a result.
 
The Norwegian government has since replied to explain that Telenor’s decision was made entirely independently and does not represent a national approach to the Chinese tech giant.
 
“We have explained that in Norway it is the companies themselves who choose their suppliers, and not the state. The same is true in the telecom sector. We are confident China understands our position and accepts our assurances. We also hope the improving relationship we currently have with China will not change,” said Nikolai Astrup, Norway’s digitisation minister.
 
If it seems like this statement contains a subtle dig at the differences between the Norwegian and Chinese governments’ roles in industry decisions, that is because it does — it was, after all, concerns about Huawei’s links to the Chinese government that ultimately led to the company being flagged by national services, including Norwegian military intelligence service E-tjenesten.
 
Arrived at independently or not, Telenor’s decision could have major ramifications for Norway. China is Norway’s biggest trading partner in Asia and the two nations had been planning to conclude talks of a free trade deal this year. Telenor’s Huawei snub is sure to be a sore point at the upcoming negotiations.
 
The trade deal itself already has a rocky history, having been previously undermined by the Nobel Committee awarding Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo a Nobel Prize back in 2010. The talks resumed in 2017.
 
Other European nations will be watching this situation develop with interest as they try to ascertain just how much diplomatic and economic might China is willing to exert to maintain access to its European markets. 
 
Germany’s decision on Huawei is apparently “imminent”, according to Germany’s US ambassador. The nation is something of a European lynchpin, with many of its neighbors expected to follow its lead in this important geopolitical issue. 
 
 
Also in the news: 
 

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