The Trump administration is seeking to block China Telecom from operating in the United States, claiming that the company is creating “substantial and unacceptable” national security and law enforcement risks for the US.
Several federal agencies Thursday urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revoke China Telecom (Americas) Corp’s authorization to offer international telecommunications services to and from the United States.
The agencies, including Justice, Homeland Security, Defense, State, Commerce, and the United States Trade Representative, cited “substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks associated with China Telecom’s operations.”
The move against China Telecom, the US subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned company, is the latest example of how the White House is seeking to rid the US telecommunications industry of any dependence on China.
Last year, the FCC was pressed by two US senators – Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Tom Cotton of Arkansas – to review approvals of China Telecom and China Unicom to operate in the United States.
In a unanimous vote last May, the FCC denied another state-owned Chinese telecommunications company, China Mobile Ltd, the right to provide services in the United States over what it claimed was risks that the Chinese government might use the approval to carry out espionage activities against the US government.
At the time, the FCC said it was “looking” at the licenses of China Telecom and China Unicom.
China Telecom (Americas), however, dismissed the allegations, saying it has “been extremely cooperative and transparent with regulators.”
“In many instances, we have gone beyond what has been requested to demonstrate how our business operates and serves our customers following the highest international standards,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to sharing additional details to support our position and addressing any concerns.”
Some US policymakers see Beijing and Chinese company Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker, as serious threats to America’s national security and technology dominance.
The Commerce Department in May placed Huawei on a trade blacklist, citing national security concerns. That allowed the US government to restrict sales of US-made goods to the company and a small number of items made abroad that contain US technology.