Chinese telecoms businesses urge the FCC not to revoke their ability to operate in the US

FCC - Federal Communications Commission

The US-based units of China Telecom and China Unicom have urged the FCC not to revoke the company’s nearly two-decade old authorisation to provide international telecommunications services to and from the US.

KEY POINTS:

  • China Telecom and China Unicom urged the FCC not to revoke authorisation to provide international telecoms services to and from the US
  • The US Justice Department and other federal agencies have asked the FCC to act, citing national security concerns
  • The FCC’s Ajit Pai had said the agency had deep concerns about the influence of the Chinese Communist Party over their activities

China Telecom (America)’s filing late Monday came after the US Justice Department and other federal agencies in April asked the FCC to act, citing national security concerns in a new flashpoint between Washington and Beijing.

China Telecom (Americas), the US subsidiary of a People’s Republic of China state-owned telecommunications company, called the government’s claims “unfounded” and argued the FCC should not revoke its right to operate in the United States “based solely on foreign policy concerns in the absence of any evidence whatsoever of specific misconduct.”

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It added the company’s “conduct to date does not demonstrate any reasonable basis for the U S government’s stated lack of trust.”

The Justice Department, along with Homeland Security, Defence, State and Commerce Departments, in April cited “substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks associated with China Telecom’s operations.”

In April, the FCC issued show-cause orders warning it might shut down the US operations of three state-controlled Chinese telecommunications companies: China Telecom, China Unicom and Pacific Networks Corp and its subsidiary ComNet (USA).

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in April the agency had deep concerns “about these companies’ vulnerability to the exploitation, influence, and control of the Chinese Communist Party.”

China Unicom (Americas) in a June 1 FCC filing said it had “a two-decade track record as a valuable contributor to US telecommunications markets, a good record of compliance with its FCC regulatory obligations, and a demonstrated willingness to cooperate with US law enforcement agencies.”

Pacific and ComNet said “neither company has been asked by the Chinese government or the Chinese Communist Party to take any action that would ‘jeopardise the national security and law enforcement interests of the United States.'”

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China Telecom (Americas) said that it had 224 employees in the United States, including 72 US citizens, and that it had complied with US law enforcement and national security inquiries.

The FCC granted approvals to the firms for US operations about two decades decade ago.

In May 2019, the FCC voted unanimously to deny another state-owned Chinese telecommunications company, China Mobile Ltd, the right to provide US services, citing risks that the Chinese government could use the approval to conduct espionage against the US government.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the ‘Chinese telecoms businesses urge the FCC not to revoke their ability to operate in the US‘ article. Automatic translation from English to a growing list of languages via Google AI Cloud Translation. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Kim Coghill and Gerry Doyle.

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