Swedish Singer Says Collaboration With Huawei ‘Not the Smartest Deal’ Amid Criticism

August 6, 2020 Updated: August 6, 2020

Swedish singer and songwriter Zara Larsson revealed on Tuesday that her collaboration with Huawei had ended, and that it was “not the smartest deal” she had made. The comment came on the same day she received scathing criticism for “running China’s errands.”

The 22-year-old celebrity on Tuesday told Nyhetsmorgon, a Swedish morning news and talk show on TV4, that she had ended her collaboration on a smartphone advertising campaign with the Chinese telecom giant.

“When I look back on it now, it was not the smartest deal I’ve ever made in my career, not only from a professional perspective, but also from a personal perspective,” Larsson said.

Larsson said she does stand for human rights, and that she ended the collaboration with the Chinese company several months ago.

The U.S. government said last year that it believes Huawei poses a security risk. Reports have also shown that there are links between the telecom company and the People’s Liberation Army— the Chinese military—and various intelligence services.

“We know that the Chinese government is not a nice government, and I do not want to support what they do,” Larsson said, adding that, having done the promotional campaign, she now feels she can’t speak out on human rights issues in China.

Huawei’s Swedish spokesperson issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the collaboration with Larsson was time-limited from the beginning and that it had ended last year, according to the agreement.

Criticism

In an opinion article published in Expressen—a nationwide newspaper—on the same day, Matilda Ekeblad, district chairman of the Swedish Young Conservatives (Moderate Youth League) in Östergötland, said she wondered why Larsson was “running China’s errands.”

The article was written after Larsson expressed her support for TikTok, a Chinese app currently under scrutiny for its security concerns.

A few hours after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he might ban TikTok in the United States last week, Larsson wrote on Twitter: “Because D*nald Tr*mp hates TikTok I love it even more,” and added a series of heart emojis at the end, Ekeblad said. The tweet seems to have since been deleted.

“For me, it is difficult to understand: to support a dictatorship because you hate a president in a democracy. Think Donald Trump is crazy, hate him if you will—but do not run China’s errands,” Ekeblad wrote.

Ekeblad went on to criticize Larsson for having “been the face of Huawei, the mobile giant that is practically controlled by the Chinese state.”

The Chinese regime uses Huawei’s services “to control, among other things, Uighurs, the ethnic group that is currently being exterminated in the country through oppression, labor camps, and forced sterilization,” she wrote.

Trojan Horse

Ekeblad is particularly worried about Western celebrities being used as Trojan horses for the Chinese communist regime.

“China already has a stated strategy of connecting with famous people to make people in the West more friendly to Chinese companies and—in the long run—more friendly to the Chinese state,” she wrote.

When Larsson was questioned about her collaboration with Huawei last year, she told Resumé magazine that apart from the smartphone she was promoting, she wasn’t “particularly familiar” with issues surrounding Huawei, and that she only collaborates with companies she genuinely likes and can stand for.

Larsson had some concern about the risks, but did not think representing Huawei was an issue at the time, saying her focus was on the smartphone she was advertising. “More than that I do not think about or comment, because I have nothing to do with it really,” she told Resumé.

“It’s scary that such a famous person, a role model for thousands of young people, uses her platform to do China’s bidding,” Ekeblad wrote.

“China’s dictatorship must be stopped, and it will never be if we have influential celebrities who not only support them but also pave the way for their success.”

Sarah Sjöström, a Swedish Olympic swimmer, is still collaborating with Huawei. In a statement she wrote to Swedish sports newspaper Sportbladet, she said the collaboration “works well,” and that she does not comment on politics.

“Regarding Huawai, I have had a collaboration with them for just over a year now. A collaboration that in my opinion works well for both parties. For me, it is mainly my interest in technology, photography, and innovation, where Huawai is very strong, that makes me think that the collaboration is good. I do not comment on politics or anything like that and I have never done that. So, otherwise I have no more comments,” Sjöström told Sportbladet.

The Epoch Times Swedish edition contributed to this report