China Unicom is the latest Chinese telecoms behemoth to be barred from entering the United States due to “significant” national security and espionage concerns.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it had voted unanimously to remove the company’s authorization to operate in the United States. Within 60 days, the company must cease offering telecommunications services in the United States.
The announcement comes after China Telecom’s license to operate in the United States was terminated in October. “There has been mounting evidence – and with it, a growing concern – those Chinese state-owned carriers pose a real threat to the security of our telecommunications networks.” stated FCC chairperson Jessica Rosenworcel.
“The United States revoked its 214 licenses only on subjective speculation and suspicion without listing the specific illegal facts of our company,” China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said at the time, “which is not in line with the image of a market-oriented country that the United States has delivered to the world and also damages the legitimate rights and interests of global consumers, including American users.”
China Unicom’s American subsidiary “has a good record of complying with relevant US laws and regulations and providing telecommunication services and solutions as a reliable partner of its customers in the past two decades”
“China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited will closely follow the development of the situation,” it said.
US authorities have targeted Chinese technology and telecoms corporations in recent years due to national security concerns.
President Joe Biden approved legislation in November prohibiting corporations deemed a security danger from obtaining new telecommunications equipment licenses. The FCC should no longer evaluate applications from organizations deemed a danger under the Secure Equipment Act.
It means Huawei, ZTE, and three other Chinese companies’ equipment can’t be utilized in US telecommunications networks.
The US government also added a dozen additional Chinese firms to its restricted trade list in November, citing national security and foreign policy concerns. According to Washington, some of the companies are assisting in the development of the Chinese military’s quantum computing program.
In October, Washington canceled China Telecom’s US license, citing national security concerns as well.
The Chinese government’s ownership of the corporation, according to US authorities, allowed it to “to access, store, disrupt, and/or misroute US communications”
As a result, it may be able to “to engage in espionage and other harmful activities against the US” they added.
China Mobile, the country’s state-owned telecoms company, had its US license cancelled in 2019.