"I belong in that category that believes competition makes us longer term a better company. It may be painful shorter term but longer term it drives us to be more innovative and make better products for our customers," he told the FT.
Ericsson has won contracts from all three major operators in China to supply radio equipment for 5G networks, while Nokia has not won any 5G radio contracts in the highly competitive market.
Huawei, which has denied being a national security risk, has appealed against Sweden's decision to exclude it from 5G networks.
China's foreign ministry has said Sweden should address its incorrect decision to ban Huawei and ZTE to avoid a negative impact on Swedish companies in China.
Ekholm told FT that he expected the overall rollout of the new telecoms networks to be delayed, adding the political focus in Europe should be on rolling out 5G as fast as possible.
"Think about 4G, the debate in Europe was: what is the killer app? The Americans and Chinese rolled out 4G fastest and the app economy for consumers is now dominated by American and Chinese firms," he said.