On October 21st, Ambassador Gui Congyou received an exclusive interview with Swedish TV news programs and “Current News” at the embassy on issues related to Chinese companies in Sweden’s 5G construction.
Q: Mr. Ambassador, what is your response to the Swiss side’s prohibition of Huawei and ZTE from participating in the 5G construction in Sweden?
Ambassador Gui: This decision of the Swiss side is wrong. The spokesperson of our embassy made a statement yesterday, and today the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also answered relevant questions. Sweden has always advocated open development and free competition, and the successful development of the Swedish economy is also benefiting from this. Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE have been operating in Sweden for many years and have been strictly abiding by Swedish laws and regulations, and have made important contributions to the construction of related infrastructure and social and economic development in Sweden. Huawei, ZTE, and Sweden’s Ericsson have developed good cooperation and competition, which has promoted technological progress in related fields. The Swiss decision is to abuse the concept of “national security” and use administrative means and state power to exclude and suppress certain Chinese companies, which violates the principles of market economy and free competition. We express our strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this. I hope that the Swedish government will correct its mistakes as soon as possible and re-examine this decision.
Q: The Swedish Post and Telecommunications Administration, the security department, the military and other relevant departments all claim that China poses a threat to Sweden’s security, including cyber espionage activities against Sweden. Are these statements wrong?
Ambassador Gui: I think they are all wrong. These departments lack a basic understanding of China’s foreign policy, and China does not pose a threat to any country. Networking is a new trend and phenomenon in the world, and China is also a victim of cybersecurity incidents such as cyber theft. Without any factual basis, groundless accusations that China poses a so-called “threat” to Sweden, we firmly oppose it. In fact, China has always been a contributor to maintaining network security. Not long ago, China put forward the “Global Data Security Initiative”, which is to cooperate with countries around the world to jointly maintain network and digital security. We hope that the Swedish government will join the Chinese side in the team to jointly maintain cybersecurity, rather than blame China for no reason.
Q: The person in charge of the Swedish security department claimed that China had spied on Sweden. This is the reason why Huawei and ZTE cannot participate in the 5G construction in Sweden. Is his statement wrong?
Ambassador Gui: Of course it is wrong. We firmly reject such groundless accusations. Huawei and ZTE have been operating in Sweden for more than 20 years and have been abiding by Swedish laws and regulations, and have not done anything that violates Swedish laws and regulations. If you are interested, you can ask the person in charge of the Swedish security department to ask whether the so-called “security threat” caused by Huawei to Sweden is based on facts and let the facts speak for themselves. Huawei has long proposed to the Swedish government that if there are concerns, it can sign a “no backdoor” agreement. But now that the Swiss side is unable to provide a basis for facts and is unwilling to sign a “no backdoor” agreement with Huawei, it has categorically excluded Huawei and other Chinese companies from Sweden’s 5G construction. Of course, we firmly oppose it.
Question: The views of the relevant Swedish authorities are very different from yours. Why do they have such a view? If none of their opinions are true, why should they lie?
Ambassador Gui: Then you have to ask them yourself. You can ask them why they exclude Huawei and ZTE without any factual basis? Why are you reluctant to sign a “no backdoor” agreement with Huawei? We are also waiting for an answer from your country’s military and security agencies.
Q: Did China or you have any discussions with the Swedish government on this?
Ambassador Gui: We have been in close communication with the Swedish government, Huawei and Swiss partners. First of all, there is no factual evidence that Huawei and ZTE’s equipment have security issues. The decision of the Swedish military and security agencies is unfounded and groundless. Second, Huawei has announced to the world that if a country is concerned about security issues, they can sign a “no backdoor” agreement with the other party. Communication in this area has been very smooth. But this attitude of the Swedish military and security agencies is surprising, and it also surprises the Swiss partners.
Q: The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today that if Sweden does not change this practice, Swedish and Swedish companies will bear the corresponding consequences. What does the “corresponding consequence” specifically refer to?
Ambassador Gui: We hope that the Swedish government will take a wise and correct decision to avoid negative impacts on the practical cooperation between the two parties and Swedish enterprises in China. More than 600 Swedish companies have long-term production and operation in China and have obtained good benefits. They are all optimistic about China’s market development prospects. We hope that the Swedish government will meet China halfway and provide favorable conditions and environment for Swedish enterprises to operate in China. We hope that the Swiss side will adopt a positive attitude and achieve positive results. We do not hope that the Swiss side will adopt a negative attitude and lead to negative results.
Question: I don’t understand your answer very well. Will there be consequences?
Ambassador Gui: Opening up cannot be unilateral. Market opening should be mutual. We hope that the Swiss government will provide a free, open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for the legal operations of Chinese companies. The Swedish government and companies have always hoped that China will further open up the market. Under the premise of mutual openness, China will open more and more doors to them. Therefore, we hope that the Swedish government will correct its wrong decision as soon as possible, meet China halfway, and adopt a positive attitude. This will benefit everyone. We should not do anything that is not good for everyone.
Q: If the Swedish government does not change their decision, that is, Huawei and ZTE cannot participate in the Swedish
Will there be consequences for 5G construction? If there is a negative result, will the Swedish company be sanctioned?
Ambassador Gui: I understand your question, but I still hope to see positive decisions and positive results from the Swiss side. We hope that the Swedish government will correct its mistakes as soon as possible. If the Swiss side excludes specific Chinese companies from the 5G construction, it cannot be without consequences. As I said earlier, market opening should be mutual.
Question: So what are the consequences?
Ambassador Gui: It will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the pragmatic cooperation between China and Sweden and the normal operation of Swedish enterprises in China. We hope that the Swedish government can clearly recognize this and immediately correct its wrong practices.
Q: Do you mean to impose sanctions on Swedish companies in China, or make it more difficult for Swedish companies to operate in China?
Ambassador Gui: China has provided a good environment and conditions for the legal operations of all foreign companies in China, including Sweden, and is also willing to further open the market to foreign companies including Swedish companies. We hope that the Swedish government will change its erroneous practice of excluding Chinese companies from participating in 5G construction, and avoid negatively affecting the further development of Swedish companies in China. I understand that you are asking questions based on the worst results, but I am more willing to answer your questions with a positive attitude. We hope to see positive results.
Question: From what I heard, your answer is still like a threat to the Swedish government. If they do not change their practices, there will be consequences. So are you delivering a threat?
Ambassador Gui: We don’t like “threat”, we are raising hope.
Q: So what is your message to the Swedish government?
Ambassador Gui: The good wish is to hope that the Swedish government will take a positive attitude and change its wrong approach. Just as China allows Swedish companies to participate in the bid for 5G construction in China, it also allows Chinese companies such as Huawei to participate in the bid for 5G construction in Sweden.
Maybe we two have different understandings of the same thing. For example, I hope the weather will be warmer today, but you can’t interpret this as a threat to the Swedish weather. We always look at problems from a positive perspective and solve them with a positive attitude. We hope that the Swedish government will correct its mistakes by expressing good and positive wishes to the Swedish government.