China Mobile blocked from USA over national security concerns


The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to block China Mobile from providing service in the U.S. and said it's reviewing the status of other Chinese providers due to national security concerns.

China on Friday slammed the United States for the "unreasonable suppression" of China Mobile after USA regulators denied the telecom giant's request to operate in the U.S. market over national security concerns.

Commissioner Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 23, 2018.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rejected China Mobile USA's application to offer telecom services between the US and foreign destinations. 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.

Since 2011, China Mobile has sought federal permission to provide services connecting phone calls between people in the United States and other countries, operating as a critical nexus for worldwide phone traffic.

After extensively scrutinizing the application, holding discussions with the telecom, and consulting United States intelligence and other administration officials, the FCC denied the request.

China Mobile has over 900 million subscribers in mainland China, making it the largest mobile phone network operator in the world.

Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr said the agency should go further and investigate China-owned carriers that received approval to connect with US networks earlier, citing concerns that at least one of them "has been hijacking USA traffic and redirecting it through China".

The decision now marks the first time the FCC has denied an application due to national security concerns. China Mobile had not sought approval to provide wireless services to US consumers. The FCC cited reports that "China Telecom has been hijacking US traffic and redirecting it through China", according to Commissioner Brendan Carr.

The draft order to be voted on Thursday cited national security risk as the reason for rejecting China Mobile's application.

Huawei has denied the accusations that it operates as a conduit for Chinese espionage in the USA, instead arguing that the federal government is concerned it could hinder the ability of the intelligence community to collect information.

As the U.S. shuts its doors to Chinese telecom companies, China, by comparison, is opening its telecom industry up for foreign company participation.

"This application has been in these halls for more than eight years", Ms Rosenworcel said in a written statement.

A FCC spokesperson told NPR that ownership of China Mobile USA traces to the China Mobile Communications Corporation, which is "subject to the supervision of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission", a part of the Chinese government managed under the State Council. "So while I support this vote, it does nothing to change the status quo".