The EU 5G sanctions imposed against Huawei at Washington’s behest may not be without recourse. The Chinese company just managed a much-needed legal win that puts it on track to challenge those crippling deterrents. Though the road to recovery is still a long and uncertain one.
This week, however, a Stockholm court ruled that Huawei’s defense is far from baseless. The ruling states that Sweden cannot prevent Huawei from bidding in its 5G spectrum auction. At least based on the existing reasoning, which is that the company poses a national security threat because it’s based in China. Sounds familiar? Yes, the ban is essentially an extension of the well-documented U.S. sanctions against Huawei.
It’s no wonder that Sweden tried banning Huawei from its infrastructural expansion plans, however. It’s a close U.S. ally of many years, so any other course of action would have been more out of character.
But as things stand right now, Huawei has the ruling it needs to challenge these sanctions in front of the World Trade Organization.
Which has the jurisdiction to rule over such matters for having Sweden among its members. Poland and Romania are actually in a similar boat; they both banned Huawei from participating in their 5G projects and their decisions are now facing legitimate scrutiny.
For Huawei, overturning EU 5G sanctions isn’t even half the battle here
With this week’s ruling, that “legitimate” part cannot be stressed enough. As it’s the first instance of Huawei succeeding at mounting some opposition to the sweeping storm of sanctions it’s been facing for a while now. Reading between the lines, it would appear Huawei is trying to force the governments following Washington’s lead to show their hands. As the aforementioned cases of EU 5G sanctions have all been based on classified evidence. So, nothing proving a real, current threat has yet been publicized.
Of course, no court in the world can force any sovereign government to do business with Huawei. Not when the cost of such a move is making Uncle Sam angry. And the long history of animosity between the U.S. and Huawei yields no shortage of credible arguments in favor of caution. Which isn’t to say there’s legal precedent for preemptive retaliation like the EU 5G sanctions Huawei’s currently facing. But this WTO angle is still a huge “if”- and anyone claiming otherwise almost certainly has a financial interest in keeping Huawei nice and operational.