U.S. regulators on Tuesday suspended authorization for China Telecom’s local subsidiary to operate in the United States, citing “significant” risks to national security.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling orders Beijing-controlled China Telecom Americas to suspend service in 60 days, ending a nearly 20-year operation in the United States and undoubtedly escalating tensions between the economic superpowers.
The Chinese government’s ownership and control of the company poses significant national security and law enforcement risks, “by providing opportunities for Beijing” to access, store, disrupt and/or divert U.S. communications, which in turn would allow them to engage in espionage or other harmful activities against the United States,” the FCC said in a statement.
China Telecom faced trouble in the U.S. for years, particularly during Donald Trump’s recent presidency, when the company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange along with state-owned telecom firms China Mobile and China Unicom following an executive order from the Republican leader.
In April 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to terminate China Telecom’s U.S. dealings citing “substantial and unacceptable national security risks.”
U.S. regulators have also taken action against other Chinese telecommunications companies. The Trump administration began an aggressive campaign in 2018 to disrupt Huawei’s global ambitions, barring the tech giant from accessing key components and banning the use of Google’s Android services.