Nokia curries favour with US by reducing orders with Chinese supplier


The decision represents a growing trend in both Europe and the US as companies move to make their supply chains more resilience to geopolitical interference

This week, anonymous sources speaking to Nikkei Asia said Nokia had reduced orders with supplier Foxconn Industrial Internet in order to help meet requirements of the US’s ‘Clean Network’ programme.

The programme, introduced by the Trump Administration in 2020, aimed at esuring critical infrastructure in the US was built and operated only by firms trusted by the government – specifically those without connections to the Chinese government or other ‘malign actors’.

‘The Clean Network addresses the long-term threat to data privacy, security, human rights and principled collaboration posed to the free world from authoritarian malign actors,” explains the US Department of State website. ‘The Clean Network is rooted in internationally accepted digital trust standards. It represents the execution of a multi-year, all-of-government, enduring strategy, built on a coalition of trusted partners, and based on rapidly changing technology and economics of global markets.’

Since then, US companies – and non-American companies seeking to do business in the US – have been quietly moving to reduce their reliance on Chinese telecoms equipment.

For Nokia, this has seemingly meant a reduction of orders from Foxconn Industrial Internet, a company that is itself not a Chinese but is traded on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

According to the report, equipment affected by this order reallocation ‘involve products like low-power cellular radio access nodes and customer premises equipment (CPE)’.

“As a global company, Nokia has a highly resilient global supply chain, the diversity of which [has] been maintained and even increased over recent years. We carefully balance the need to locate supply chain operations as close as possible to customers with the benefits of scale and requirements for technical specialization and high quality,” said Nokia in a statement to Nikkei Asia.

Foxconn Industrial Internet did not comment on changes in order numbers from Nokia, telling the media that “cooperation with the client is proceeding as usual”.

It should be noted here that China is likewise taking steps to reduce its reliance on US technology. Last month, the government mandated that US tech be removed from government devices, a decision that is expected to be significant blow for the likes of Intel and AMD, whom the Chinese government has relied upon for years.

In fact, this geopolitical standoff over technical sovereignty has been spilling out all over the world in recent years. This week, we have seen similar tensions playing out in the Middle East, with US tech giant Microsoft investing $1.5 billion in the rapidly advancing Emirati AI firm G42, but seemingly only after G42 agreed to wean itself off Chinese technology.

“For better or for worse, as a commercial company, we are in a position where we have to make a choice. We cannot work with both sides,” G42 CEO Peng Xiao told the Financial Times.

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