China Telecom is asking a US appeals court to block regulatory moves designed to ban it from operating in the country on national security grounds.
The FCC issued an order in late October demanding that the telco giant’s American business cease its operations at the start of 2022 in a bid to “safeguard the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure from potential security threats.”
It claimed that the firm’s ownership and control by Beijing raised major security and law enforcement concerns, by potentially enabling the Chinese government to “access, store, disrupt and/or misroute US communications, which in turn allow them to engage in espionage and other harmful activities against the United States.”
The order added: “China Telecom Americas … is subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government and is highly likely to be forced to comply with Chinese government requests without sufficient legal procedures subject to independent judicial oversight.”
The FCC also claimed that the firm’s “conduct and representations” to the commission demonstrated “a lack of candor, trustworthiness and reliability.”
However, the Chinese telco, one of the world’s largest by subscriber numbers, reportedly told the US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia on Monday that complying with the order would “irreparably” harm its business and reputation.
It appears to be arguing against the immediacy of the order, claiming that the FCC should first have held an administrative hearing.
The US government has already blocked China Mobile from operating in the country and has begun revoking authorization for China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks and wholly-owned subsidiary ComNet.
Chinese handset maker Xiaomi has already won a similar case it brought to the US Appeals Court after the Pentagon added it to a list of Communist Chinese military companies (CCMC).