Who’s Coming to Huawei’s Support? Its Biggest European Competitor

Few companies have gained more from the U.S.-led campaign against China’s Huawei Technologies Co. than Ericsson AB. The Swedish business, in a tailspin a few years ago, now surpasses Huawei in selling cellular equipment in much of the world.

Yet over the past few months, Ericsson Chief Executive Börje Ekholm has gone on a lobbying campaign—on Huawei’s behalf.

Mr. Ekholm met Swedish politicians to protest the way the country barred Huawei equipment from the country’s 5G networks over national security concerns. He complained to journalists in Europe and China. He sought law firms to help Huawei fight the ban.

Mr. Ekholm says that in an increasingly intertwined world he is just looking after his company’s interests. After the Swedish 5G ban, Beijing threatened to retaliate against Ericsson’s business in China, where it runs a major factory and gets 8% of its sales, versus 1% from Sweden.

“We depend on free trade,” Mr. Ekholm said in an interview. “It’s about having access to markets, and that is at the center of what we are.”

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