Ericsson CEO vows to fight for Chinese presence

Börje Ekholm, CEO of Swedish kit vendor Ericsson, is determined not to throw in the towel over China despite geopolitical forces working against him.

Ekholm expressed his position to Reuters in a recent interview, stating “We have been in China for 120 years and I don’t intend to give up easily. We are going to show that we can add value to China.” The reason he is even making such comments Is the fact that the most recent allocation of 5G work in the country saw Ericsson’s share fall dramatically, apparently at the behest of the Chinese state in retaliation for Sweden’s ban on Chinese kit vendors.

“I don’t believe we have had any help from the Swedish government to be honest,” grumbled Ekholm in the interview, but it’s not obvious what it could have done. It’s possible that the Swedish regulator could have fudged the matter a bit more, as the British did or as the EU continues to do, but a ban is a ban and it seems futile to ask Xi Jinping not to take it personally.

Ericsson’s best hope would appear to come from China trying to pretend its not acting in exactly the same way it criticizes Sweden for by banning it outright. While that will probably amount to little more than crumbs from the tables, as Ekholm says in the interview, that’s still better than nothing, especially as it enables his company to stay on top of the latest developments in the world’s biggest telecoms market.

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