In the latest opposition to Chinese telecommunication service in the United States, a number of executive agencies are pushing the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to terminate China’s Telecom’s license, citing security risks.
It is the first time since China and the U.S. reached a deal to minimize their trade conflict in January. Ever since then; there has been relaxed tension between the two countries until now.
State-owned China Telecom is one of the country’s largest mobile networks and broadband providers. In this renewed bid to oust them, the Trump administration is pointing at the usual excuse – national security.
Based on “unacceptable security risks,” federal agencies like the State Department and Department of Justice are asking the FCC to revoke the communication company’s license and stop it from offering international communication services in the U.S.
After Huawei became a victim of the antitrust politics between the U.S. and China last year, many other tech companies of Chinese origin have fallen into the way including Tiktok.
China’s Telecom (Americas) was licensed in 2007 by the FCC and has been operating on the U.S soil until now. The Department of Justice said the company has failed to live up to the agreement it had with the department and it spells security risk.
“Today, more than ever, the life of the nation and its people runs on our telecommunications network. The security of our government and professional communications, as well as of our most private data, depends on our use of trusted partners from nations that share our values and our aspirations for humanity.
“Today’s action is but our next step in ensuring the integrity of America’s telecommunications system,” said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.
There has been heightened opposition to tech companies from China since last year, spurred by Trump’s administration’s suspicion of espionage. The Chinese government has been linked to a series of cyber-attacks targeting the United States, an excuse, among others; the U.S. government is basing its actions on.
After Huawei’s expulsion, the U.S government has been warning its allies around the world not to accept the Chinese company’s 5G roll out, as it poses a security risk that will be detrimental to their partnership.
In December 2019, the U.S. Secretary of States Mike Pompei warned the UK government that there will be no sharing of intelligence if London allows Huawei to continue with the 5G roll out.
The U.S. has been concerned that China will at any time force Huawei to provide data about countries where it is operational. And with a lot of countries under its 5G coverage, Huawei will have a mass of critical information to deliver to Beijing. Huawei’s push to lead the 5G roll out globally is therefore a potential threat that the U.S. government is fighting to contain.
The Chinese telecom company (Americas) however, has a different case. The federal agencies laid out a number of issues they had with China Telecom including the “evolving national security environment since 2007” and “increased knowledge of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s role in malicious cyber activity targeting the United States.” Just as it is a matter of concern with other tech companies; China Telecom is perceived as “vulnerable to exploitation, influence, and control by the PRC government.”
Also, the Trump administration claims that China Telecom could offer an opportunity for the country’s state actors to “engage in malicious cyber activities enabling economic espionage and disruption and misrouting of U.S. communications.”
But as these events unfold, it is becoming clearer that the U.S. is not only concerned about cyber activities etc. it is also wary that China, through Huawei, will dominate the world – and it doesn’t want that to happen.
On Friday, the U.S. government has accused Huawei of trying to win favor from many countries, including Canada and France, for the 5G roll out, by donating masks and health gadgets to them for their fight against coronavirus. Though Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the donation will not influence the decision whether to accept Huawei’s 5G or not, the U.S. is worried that like the UK, Canada may yield and accept Huawei’s offer.