China Telecom to lose right to operate in US

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday voted to revoke authorisation for China Telecom’s US subsidiary to operate in the United States, citing what it said were national security concerns.

China Telecom, the largest Chinese telecommunications company, has had authorisation to provide telecommunications services for nearly 20 years in the United States. China Telecom Americas must now discontinue services within 60 days.

The FCC in April 2020 had warned that it might shut down the US operations of three state-controlled Chinese telecommunications companies, citing national security risks, including China Telecom Americas as well as China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet (USA).

“The FCC’s decision is disappointing. We plan to pursue all available options while continuing to serve our customers,” a China Telecoms America spokesperson said.

The FCC found that China Telecom “is subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government and is highly likely to be forced to comply with Chinese government requests without sufficient legal procedures subject to independent judicial oversight”.

It added that “China Telecom Americas’ ownership and control by the Chinese government raise significant national security and law enforcement risks by providing opportunities” for the company and the Chinese government “to access, store, disrupt, and/or misroute US communications”. (Reuters)