Date
19 August 2019
China Mobile’s bid to provide telecoms services in US 'raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks', FCC chief Ajit Pai said on Wednesday. Photo: Bloomberg
China Mobile’s bid to provide telecoms services in US 'raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks', FCC chief Ajit Pai said on Wednesday. Photo: Bloomberg

FCC set to block China Mobile bid to provide US services

US Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said on Wednesday that he opposes China Mobile’s bid to provide US telecommunications services in view of the potential national security risks, Reuters reports.

“It is clear that China Mobile’s application to provide telecommunications services in our country raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks,” Pai was quoted as saying in a statement.

China Mobile is seeking approval to provide services for phone calls between the United States and other countries. It is not seeking approval to provide wireless services to US consumers.

According to the FCC, China Mobile USA, which filed the application, is indirectly and ultimately owned and controlled by the Chinese government.

The FCC will vote in May on whether to deny the company’s application. The five-member FCC is expected to back Pai’s draft order. 

FCC officials said if successful China Mobile would be able to exploit the US “telephone network to increase intelligence collection against US government agencies and other sensitive targets that depend on this network.”

“There is a significant risk that the Chinese government would use the grant of authority to China Mobile USA to conduct activities that would seriously jeopardize the national security and law enforcement interests of the United States,” the officials told reporters on a call.

The comments come amid a broader US campaign to limit the role of Chinese telecoms firms in the build-out of 5G networks as Western governments grapple with the national security implications of moving to 5G, which promises to be at least 100 times faster than the current 4G networks.

The Trump administration said last year that China Mobile wanted to be able to “interconnect and have greater access to telephone lines, fiber-optic cables, cellular networks, and communication satellites throughout the United States’ telecommunications network.”

China Mobile USA, which is a Delaware corporation, first applied for permission in 2011. The firm sought FCC approval to provide international facilities-based and resale telecommunications services between the US and foreign destinations.

In July 2018, after a lengthy review of the application and consultation with the US intelligence community, a group of executive branch agencies recommended the FCC deny China Mobile’s application, citing “substantial national security and law enforcement risks that cannot be resolved through a voluntary mitigation agreement.”

Pai has circulated a draft order that would deny the request and find that China Mobile “is vulnerable to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government,” the report said.

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RC

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