US bans China’s telecom giant ‘Unicom’ over spying concerns

China Unicom is the latest Chinese telecommunications behemoth to be barred from entering the United States due to “significant” national security and espionage concerns.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it had unanimously voted to terminate the company’s authorization to operate in the United States.

Within 60 days, the company must cease offering telecoms services in the United States.

The news comes after China Telecom’s licence to operate in the United States was terminated in October.

“There has been accumulating evidence – and with it, growing alarm – that Chinese state-owned carriers represent a significant threat to the security of our telecommunications networks,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said.

According to media, China Unicom’s American subsidiary “has a strong record of complying with key US rules and regulations and providing telecommunication services and solutions as a reliable partner of its clients over the last two decades.”

“China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited will constantly monitor the situation’s progress,” it added.

US authorities have targeted Chinese technology and telecoms corporations in recent years due to national security concerns.

President Joe Biden approved legislation in November prohibiting corporations deemed a security danger from obtaining new telecoms equipment licences.

The FCC should no longer evaluate applications from organisations deemed a threat under the Secure Equipment Act.

It means Huawei, ZTE, and three other Chinese companies’ equipment can’t be utilised in US telecommunications networks.

The US government also added a dozen more Chinese firms to its restricted trade list in November, citing national security and foreign policy concerns.

According to Washington, some of the companies are assisting in the development of the Chinese military’s quantum computing programme.

In October, Washington cancelled China Telecom’s US licence, citing national security concerns as well.

The Chinese government’s control of the corporation, according to US authorities, allowed it to “access, store, disrupt, and/or misroute US communications.”

As a result, it may be able to “engage in espionage and other destructive operations against the United States,” they claimed.

China Mobile, the country’s state-owned telecoms company, had its US licence cancelled in 2019.

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