Wednesday, 18 July, 2018

Trump Tells FCC to Deny China Mobile US License

U.S. President Donald Trump. Leah Millis Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump. Leah Millis Reuters
Nellie Chapman | 05 July, 2018, 11:39

Some seven years after the company asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a license to carry voice traffic in and out of the USA -something that would require connecting US telecoms networks to China Mobile's network-the White House effectively closed off the possibility with a negative recommendation.

But the US Department of Commerce has recommended the licence request be denied.

China Mobile, a Chinese government-owned company, has been blocked from operating in the United States by a telecoms policy advisory body to President Trump.

China Mobile was the world's largest mobile phone operator in 2011, with more than 649 million subscribers, according to the filing.

The Trump administration has moved to block a state-owned Chinese wireless carrier from linking up with the U.S. market, citing national security concerns.

Earlier this year the US Commerce Department found that Chinese state-owned tech giant ZTE had violated trade bans with North Korea and Iran.

The Trump administration has advised the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny China Mobile from providing telecom services in the USA, citing risks to U.S. national security.

Bloomberg reported that a China Mobile representative had no immediate comment on the news but noted that China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said in a press briefing that the "U.S. should stop groundless speculation and intentional suppression against Chinese companies".

Asian stock markets wobbled on Monday amid rising US-China trade tensions. The company wasn't seeking to offer mobile services directly to USA customers, according to the U.S. filing.

The NTIA's filing noted that, were China Mobile to get its "common carrier" license, it would gain more access to USA telecoms network infrastructure-from cables to satellites-that "was created with minimal security features because it was assumed that only trusted parties would have access".

NTIA further said that its assessment rested "in large part on China's record of intelligence activities and economic espionage targeting the US, along with China Mobile's size and technical and financial resources".

According to a heavily redacted petition [PDF], the Executive Branch said it assessed that China Mobile is "vulnerable to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government", adding that "China Mobile would likely comply with requests made by the Chinese government".

If the deal went through, Redl wrote, "the Chinese government, through China Mobile, would have a greater ability to monitor, degrade and disrupt USA government communications".

The Trump administration is expected to bring into effect the first tranche of 25% tariffs on $34bn of Chinese goods.