China reportedly mulls retaliatory export controls on Ericsson and Nokia

If Europe starts getting funny ideas about following the UK’s example in banning Huawei from its 5G networks, then the Chinese state could reciprocate by persecuting European kit vendors.

This is according to the people familiar with the matter that the WSJ keeps up its sleeve. They reportedly reckon China is thinking of imposing export controls on Ericsson and Nokia gear manufactured in China if the EU decides to impose a 5G ban on Huawei.

While the European Commission would presumably deny such a claim, the EU seems to be following the UK’s lead on Huawei, having echoed its decision back in January. The reason for this could well be an acknowledgment of the unique level of scrutiny and insight the UK has into the potential security risks associated with having Huawei kit in its telecoms networks.

Since the recent UK change of heart was based entirely on revised advice from its security experts, it stand to reason that the rest of Europe is faced with the same dilemmas created by US sanctions against Huawei. The EC will certainly have to make a new statement one way or the other and, if it concludes the risk can still be mitigated as before, will have to explain what it knows that the UK experts don’t.

If this story represents the Communist Party’s position then it should think twice before acting so vengefully. Not only would this be a clear attempt at crude extortion, it would also provide a strong incentive for all Western companies to relocate their manufacturing. That process is already underway regardless, for a variety of reasons, but actions such as this would probably do more damage to China itself than the countries it seeks to coerce.