The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously on Tuesday, October 26, to revoke the license to operate as a telephone service provider to Telecom China America, a Chinese state-owned company, citing national security concerns.
The FCC’s decision comes more than a year after the previous administration’s Justice Department asked the agency to revoke the Chinese company’s contract amid allegations that Beijing was stealing Americans’ data through its companies.
In its statement, the FCC found that that ‘China Telecom Americas, a U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned enterprise, 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.’
China Telecom Americas began operating two decades ago in the United States. When the Chinese company was authorized to operate in the country, there was little or no knowledge of the Chinese Communist Party’s practices of using its companies to spy on other nations, the agency explains in its statement.
The FCC’s decision coincides with a campaign recently launched by the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center that seeks to raise awareness in the American business community about the dangers of doing business with Chinese companies as the CCP uses several strategies to force them to share data on their customers and partners with the Chinese state security apparatus and intelligence services.
The regulator concluded that the CCP’s control of Telecom China Americas provides opportunities for the Chinese government “to access, store, disrupt, and/or misroute U.S. communications, which in turn allow them to engage in espionage and other harmful activities against the United States.”
Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that part of the decision was made because there were no measures to mitigate the national security risk posed by the Chinese company to the country.
Another of the FCC’s arguments was that the company showed “a lack of candor, trustworthiness, and reliability that erodes the baseline level of trust that the Commission and other U.S. government agencies require of telecommunications carriers, given the critical nature of the provision of telecommunications service in the United States.”
To help Telecom China’s customers in the country, the commission said it would publish a guide for them to switch to other companies as it terminates operations.
According to the South China Morning Post report, Telecom China Americas has a customer base that is composed of more than 4 million Chinese Americans; 2 million Chinese tourists visiting the United States annually; 300,000 Chinese students at U.S. universities; and more than 1,500 Chinese companies in the country.
In March of this year, the FCC designated five Chinese companies as national security risks, including giant Huawei, ZTE Corp, Hytera Communications Corp., etc.
The FCC’s designation forces the federal government to replace and dispose of all equipment manufactured by these companies.
The decision is sure to provoke a response from the Chinese communist regime when relations between the two nations are at one of their worst times.