The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Thursday that it has begun to withdraw the authorization process for China Telecom’s operations in the United States because it has taken further measures to combat China’s role in U.S. telecommunications.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai pointed out that out of national security considerations, several US government agencies have recommended removal.

Mr. Pai said that “people are very worried” that China Telecom will be forced to comply with the Chinese government’s information requirements, including communication interception. China Telecom, the largest telecommunications company in China, has been authorized to provide telecommunications services for nearly 20 years.

China Telecom Americas did not immediately comment.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warned in April that it might shut down the U.S. operations of three state-controlled Chinese telecommunications companies, including China Telecom Americas, China Unicom Americas, and Pacific Networks on the grounds of national security risks. And its wholly-owned subsidiary ComNet (USA) LLC

The US Department of Justice and other federal agencies called on the FCC in April to revoke China Telecom’s ability to operate in the United States.

In May 2019, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to deny the right of another Chinese state-owned telecommunications company, China Mobile, to provide services in the United States, on the grounds that the Chinese government might use the approval to spy against the US government.

The FCC also rejected Huawei’s petition on Thursday, which requires Huawei to reconsider its decision to designate the Chinese company as a threat to the US national security of the communications network.

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The FCC said in June that it had officially designated China’s Huawei and ZTE as threats. This statement prohibits US companies from using US$8.3 billion (approximately Rs 61,100 crore) of government funds to purchase equipment from these companies. The FCC confirmed the name of Zhongxing Communication last month.

The FCC also finalized rules on Thursday, requiring operators equipped with ZTE or Huawei equipment to “refurbish and replace” the equipment, and formulated a compensation plan to subsidize smaller operators to delete and replace these services and equipment.

Pai pointed out that the committee “cannot really implement a compensation plan unless and before Congress approves the necessary funds.”

Huawei said in a statement, “We are disappointed with the FCC’s decision to forcefully withdraw our products from the telecommunications network. This kind of excessive coverage puts American citizens at risk in sparsely populated rural areas. The epidemic period is crucial, and reliable communication is crucial.”

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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