Canada bans Huawei. The Chinese technology group will be excluded from the expansion of the 5G network, the government in Ottawa decided this week. The fear of Beijing’s spies is too great.
If the SP has its way, a similar verdict will soon be made in Bern: In a new motion, the party is demanding that the Federal Council refrain from using information and communication technology from companies controlled by authoritarian states. Huawei is explicitly mentioned in the justification for the initiative. In the future, a new law will have to be used to check carefully whether Huawei components in the 5G network in Switzerland are still responsible. “Due to Huawei’s proximity to the autocratic Chinese state, I strongly doubt that,” says Graubünden SP National Councilor Jon Pult (37).
For his party, the discussion about dealing with Chinese technology and know-how is of a fundamental nature. Wherever possible, the SP wants to rely on European solutions. That is also more important than directing additional funds to the defense department. “If we really want to increase our security in the face of Russian aggression and the rise of China, we need priorities other than the haphazard increase in the army budget.” Rather, what is needed is greater economic and technological independence from authoritarian states.
The SP may be particularly vocal about this position, but most factions view Beijing differently today than it did a few years ago. In 2014, the free trade agreement with China was considered an achievement of Swiss economic diplomacy and a decisive advantage over the Europeans. This euphoria has evaporated, and Federal President and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis has been adopting a clearer tone for some time. And Mitte President Gerhard Pfister said a week ago in the “NZZ am Sonntag”: “We have long played down the way we deal with China.” Today he sees the free trade agreement much more critically.
SP National Councilor Pult simply calls the contract a mistake. Like him, a number of Council colleagues are no longer willing to brush aside all strategic and humanitarian concerns due to economic advantages: On Friday, the National Council’s Legal Commission decided to expand the duty of care for companies to combat forced labor. China was also the focus of this decision.