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FCC revokes license for China Telecom Americas amid national security concerns

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to revoke China Telecom Americas U.S. operating license on Tuesday, citing national security concerns. Among the reasons cited for the switch: China Telecom’s status as a subsidiary of a state-owned enterprise and the possibility that the company could provide a conduit for hackers intent on launching cyber attacks in this country. 

The FCC’s decision is the latest in a string of U.S. government actions against Chinese communications companies. Last year, the commission denied a request by China Mobile to provide service in the U.S. 

China Telecom is the PRC’s largest telecommunications company and it offers, among other things, wireless services marketed to Chinese Americans and Chinese tourists who travel to the U.S. and want to bring their phones with them. The company has been operating in the U.S. for almost 20 years. 

“The FCC must remain vigilant to the threats posed by the Communist Party of China and those who would do its bidding,” FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in a statement posted on Twitter. “The FCC’s own review found that China Telecom Americas poses significant national security concerns due to its control and ownership by the Chinese government, including its susceptibility to complying with communist China’s intelligence and cyber security laws that are contrary to the interesting of the United States.”

He added that China Telecom’s interactions with the Commission as it conducted its review of the license was disingenuous. He said the company “lacked candor and trustworthiness.”

The FCC had warned last April that it might revoke China Telecom Americas’  license after the Department of Justice, the Pentagon, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and a roster of federal agencies said that they found “substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks” inherent in the company’s operations here. 

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Dina Temple-Raston

Dina Temple-Raston

is the Host and Managing Editor of the Click Here podcast as well as a senior correspondent at Recorded Future News. She previously served on NPR’s Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories and national security, technology, and social justice and hosted and created the award-winning Audible Podcast “What Were You Thinking.”