Beijing is considering sanctions against two major European telecoms-equipment manufacturers, should EU members follow the lead of the US and UK in barring China’s Huawei from 5G networks, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
According to the WSJ’s sources, China’s Ministry of Commerce is mulling export controls that would prevent Nokia and Ericsson from sending products it makes in China to other countries. One source added that the measures may be applied only in the event of a worst-case scenario in which European countries prohibit the use of equipment from Chinese suppliers to create 5G.
This follows last week’s decision by the UK government to ban Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G network, with all the British telecoms companies ordered to get rid of their Huawei gear by 2027. The announcement marked a sharp U-turn on London’s previous stance, which initially saw it allowing the company a limited role in Britain’s 5G networks.
China has criticized Britain’s decision to exclude Huawei, warning of retaliation, while a Huawei spokesperson said that the decision could lead to a slowing down the digital innovation in the UK.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump hailed the UK’s ban and even took credit for the decision, boasting that he had personally “convinced many countries” not to do business with the Chinese firm. Health Secretary Matt Hancock later dismissed the US president’s assertion, stressing that the British government relied only on “technical advice” from its own experts.
The US has been campaigning globally for over a year to convince nations to block Huawei from their 5G networks. Washington claims the Chinese company poses a security risk and threatens UK-US intelligence sharing. It said that allowing Huawei access to the market would be “madness.”
The US administration blacklisted the Chinese company last year and has been increasingly pressuring American allies in Europe, including Britain and Germany, to do the same.