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U.S. bans China Telecom over national security concerns

The firm’s “ownership and control by the Chinese government raise significant national security and law enforcement risks,” the FCC said in a statement.

• October 27, 2021

The U.S. government has banned China Telecom, the largest Chinese telecommunications provider, from operating in the United States citing security concerns. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday ordered China Telecom Americas to discontinue its services within 60 days. This will end China Telecom’s 20 years in the U.S.

The firm’s “ownership and control by the Chinese government raise significant national security and law enforcement risks,” the FCC said in a statement.

The regulatory body noted that the Chinese government might use the telecoms services to eavesdrop or disrupt U.S. communications and “engage in espionage and other harmful activities against the United States.”

“The FCC’s decision is disappointing… We plan to pursue all available options while continuing to serve our customers,” a spokesperson for China Telecom told Reuters

The U.S. Justice Department had already threatened to terminate China Telecom’s American dealings in April last year, saying U.S. government agencies “identified substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks associated with China Telecom’s operations.”

The U.S. crackdown on Chinese communications took a centre stage in 2019 when former President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to ban technology from “foreign adversaries” and placed strict export requirements on Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. 

Mr Trump was then able to successfully persuade allies such as the UK and Australia to ban Huawei from their 5G networks.

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