The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted against China Mobile USA’s bid to offer telecommunications services between the United States and other countries, amid an escalating China-US trade war and rising distrust towards Chinese tech and telecommunications companies.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement before the commission’s vote that the US government had advised his agency last year to reject China Mobile’s application for “national security and law enforcement reasons”.
Pai reasoned that China Mobile was owned and controlled by the Chinese government and hence “there is a significant risk that the Chinese government would use China Mobile to conduct activities that would seriously jeopardize the national security, law enforcement, and economic interests of the United States.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at the ministry’s regular press conference today that Chinese companies are encouraged to follow local laws and regulations. In turn, he urged the US to “respect the principles of the market economy” and stop the practice of using national security as a pretext to suppress Chinese companies.
China’s high-tech darling Huawei, which is also the world’s largest telecoms vendor, is suffering from a US-led global campaign that seeks to exclude it from the 5G market. Earlier this month, Pai travelled to the Czech Republic and participated in the discussion of the Prague Proposals which could potentially curb Huawei’s rise.
China Mobile filed an application to run international communication services between the United States and foreign destinations in 2011. The approval process dragged on for many years before the US government asked the FCC to deny its application in 2018.
Two Chinese telecoms network carriers, China Unicom and China Telecom, have been granted the same permits that China Mobile was seeking from the FCC, but their fates now look uncertain. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in a statement that the FCC should take additional action and probe the licenses of China Unicom and China Telecom.
Editor: Nadine Freischlad