Home Governance U.S. Bans China Telecom Americas Citing National Security Issues

U.S. Bans China Telecom Americas Citing National Security Issues

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has revoked China Telecom Americas’ license to provide interstate and international telecommunication services, citing national security risks.

U.S. and China

China-based services and products continue to concern the world over security issues. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently revoked China Telecom Americas’, a U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned enterprise China Telecom Corporation, license to provide interstate and international telecommunication services citing national security risks. In an official order, the agency asked Telecom Americas to discontinue its services in the U.S. within 60 days.

“Promoting national security is an integral part of the Commission’s responsibility to advance the public interest, and today’s action carries out that mission to safeguard the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure from potential security threats,” the FCC said.

Brendan Carr, the Commissioner of the FCC, stated the latest move is a critical initiative towards defending against constant cyberthreats from China.

Order Endorsed by Executive Branch Agencies

The decision to withdraw China Telecom Americas services comes after the U.S. Executive Branch agencies (the Departments of Justice, Defense, State, Commerce, Homeland Security, and the U.S. Trade Representative) recommended the FCC in April 2020 significant security risks.

The Executive Branch unveiled its findings to the FCC, which include:

  • China Telecom Americas 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.
  • The Control by the Chinese government raises significant national security and law enforcement risks by providing opportunities for China Telecom Americas, its parent entities, and 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 U.S.
  • The China Telecom Americas conduct and representations to the Commission and other U.S. government agencies demonstrate 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.
  • The telecom wilfully violated two of the five provisions of the 2007 Letter of Assurances with the Executive Branch agencies, compliance with which is an express condition of its international section 214 authorizations.

Chinese Telecoms Face the Heat

This is not the first Chinese telecom has encountered security concerns from government authorities. Earlier, the Chinese telecommunications service provider Huawei experienced severe backlashes from the Australian government and other countries over security and cyberespionage campaigns.  A security report has alleged that Huawei has been recruiting high-level operatives linked to China’s military and intelligence agencies. It is suspected that over 100 Huawei employees had connections with the Chinese military and state-sponsored hacking operations.

As Part of Cybersecurity Initiate

The latest move to stop the China Telecom Americas services in the U.S. could be another critical step of the Biden Administration, which is constantly trying to mitigate the state-sponsored attacks from China, Russia, and across the globe. The U.S. government has been initiating several cybersecurity measures to address the rising cyberthreats. As part of their multiple cybersecurity initiatives, the U.S. recently hosted a virtual meeting this month involving over 30 countries to address the expanding cyberthreat landscape.