Last month it was revealed the co-owner of Ericsson’s main Chinese production and research facility, which supplies 5G equipment to Australian customers including Telstra, was on a US Defence Department list of companies with supposed links to the People’s Liberation Army.
A statement from the Pentagon claimed Ericsson’s joint venture partner, the Chinese State-majority owned Panda Electronics, was a “Communist Chinese military” company. Oddly that news didn’t trigger much interest from the security hawks in Australia regularly quoted in the media.
All that blonde hair may have overwhelmed Australia’s intelligence analysts as it is now apparent Ericsson and Nokia are both deeply enmeshed in corporate and production partnerships with the Chinese Communist Party.
Ironically, our client Huawei, which has been barred from supplying 5G equipment in Australia, is an independent and privately-owned capitalist enterprise.
Nokia escaped attention from last month’s salvo from the Pentagon but an analysis of its manufacturing and research facilities in China reveals the depth of its links there. Nokia’s main Chinese business, Nokia Shanghai Bell, is half-owned by the Chinese State and substantially under its control.
The joint venture, which manufactures telecommunications equipment is an “integral part” of Nokia’s global research and development into a “vast array” of technologies including wireless access, Cloud RAN and 5G.
Given the hysteria over Huawei, it is extraordinary that Ericsson and Nokia’s CCP links have been totally ignored in Australia. For researchers (hint, the media) we attach as many hyperlinks below as possible. See for yourself.
Nokia Shanghai Bell follows Beijing’s tune
One clear sign that Nokia Shanghai Bell has stronger ties with Beijing than Helsinki, was when the facility was inspected by the chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (SASAC), which co-owns the facility with Nokia. SASAC is the main holding company for Chinese state-owned enterprises.
During the visit in 2018, SASAC chairman Xiao Yaqing issued some very clear directives to Nokia Shanghai Bell staff.
Wearing a yellow lab coat, Xiao stressed Nokia Shanghai Bell should be guided by China’s Communist Leader Xi Jinping’s “socialist ideology with Chinese characteristics in the new era and the spirit” of the 19th National Congress of the People’s Republic. He said Nokia Shanghai Bell should make a “thorough study of the important discourse of reform and development of state-owned enterprises and [the] Party’s construction said by Xi Jinping”.
With SASAC deputy chairman Peng Huagang smiling behind him, Xiao had an “in-depth exchange” with one of the researchers at the R&D facility and gained a further understanding of the ground-breaking technologies it was developing.
It is understandable Xiao issued this order given SASAC’s key role is to perform “the responsibilities mandated by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party”. And it is likely these statements resonated with Yuan Xin, the Party Secretary of the Nokia Communist Party Branch who also happens to be the chairman of Nokia Shanghai Bell.
SASAC had approved the formation of the Nokia Shanghai Bell joint venture between its subsidiary Huaxin and the Finnish technology firm Nokia the year before Xiao’s inspection tour.
According to Huaxin, Nokia Shanghai Bell is under the “supervision” of the SASAC and is described as a “strong national asset” in China.
A blossoming comradeship in China
At the signing ceremony marking the formation of Nokia Shanghai Bell in 2017, Nokia’s former CEO Rajeev Suri proclaimed: “Today’s agreement is historic for Nokia and for China, marking the next step of our decades-long commitment to the country and underscoring China’s leading role in developing next-generation communication technologies. Nokia Shanghai Bell will enhance our ability to innovate, helping us strengthen ties with communication service providers and expand to new, fast-growing sectors in need of high-performing networks.”
The joint venture was further strengthened in March 2019 when SASAC hosted the entire Nokia board and Rajeev Suri at a gathering in Beijing.
“At the meeting, they exchanged ideas on the state-assets and SOE [State Owned Enterprise] reform, development of communication technology, and cooperation among enterprises,” said a news release issued by SASAC.
Nokia gets excellent reception in Canberra
Strangely, Nokia’s management team in Australia appear to have missed the memo from their Finnish headquarters on Nokia’s blossoming relationship with the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship investment vehicle.
Nokia Chief Technology Officer Oceania, Adam Bryant had some difficulty answering some questions related to Nokia’s operations in China when he fronted a Federal parliamentary committee in February into the “deployment, adoption and application of 5G in Australia”.
When asked by committee member MP Patrick Gorman if Nokia had to set up a joint venture for manufacturing in China, Bryant answered: “Yes, there is a requirement for a joint venture.”
Gorman then asked: “What were the requirements in terms of protection or handing over of intellectual property?”
Bryant had to take the question on notice.
The questioning continued.
Mr Gorman: “What were the requirements in terms of protection or handing over of intellectual property?
Mr Bryant : I’ll take that on notice.
Mr Gorman: You’ll probably also want to take this on notice. Were there any other administrative or regulatory conditions of manufacture that would be different in Nokia’s normal business practices?
Mr Bryant : I apologise; I’ll have to take that on notice.
Mr Gorman: I expected you would, but I just needed to ask. We asked one of your competitors similar questions yesterday, and I think it’s only appropriate that we make sure that those questions are asked of each and we don’t single one out.
Mr Bryant : Thank you.
The competitor the Labor MP was referring to was Ericsson.
The above transcript appears to be the only interrogation by Australian politicians (if it can be called that) that Ericsson and Nokia have faced in relation to their supply of 5G equipment to Australia from facilities it co-owns with the Chinese State.
Following the ban on Huawei from Australia’s 5G network by the Turnbull government in 2018, Nokia and Ericsson are the only major suppliers left to supply equipment to the next generation mobile network.
Not once in the hearings was there any mention of Nokia or Ericsson’s joint ventures in China being co-owned by the Chinese state.
That was it. Wet lettuce interrogation over.
The parliamentary committee handed down its report in March, with not a single mention of Nokia and Ericsson’s joint ventures in China. Nor their strengthening relationships with the Chinese State.
Huawei has been endlessly vilified by Australian politicians in the most extreme terms for little more than being Chinese. How stark is the contrast when they are dealing with Scandinavian providers whose equipment is made under the ownership and direction of the Chinese Communist Party. Ironically, Huawei’s equipment is not.