The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has thrown down the gauntlet, going after telecom companies that have strong ties to Beijing.
The U.S. has engaged in some very public battles with Chinese firms, including Huawei and ZTE, citing issues of national security. In its latest move, the FCC has “issued Show Cause Orders to four telecom companies with ties to the communist regime in China.” A Show Cause Order gives the companies 30 days to make the case as to why their authority to operate within the U.S. should not be revoked. The companies in question are ComNet, China Telecom Americas, China Unicom Americas and Pacific Networks.
“Over the past few weeks, Americans have learned that they no longer need to page through dusty foreign policy magazines to understand the consequences that flow from communist China’s brutal crackdown on freedom and free speech,” writes Commissioner Brendan Carr. “The communist party’s silencing of critics and its disappearance of hero doctors and citizen journalists exacerbated the global spread of Covid-19. Americans are now experiencing the consequences of those oppressive actions in their own lives—whether in the loss of their jobs or their kids not being able to attend school due to Covid-19.
“Since communist China is willing to disappear its own people to advance the regime’s geopolitical agenda, it is appropriate for the FCC to closely scrutinize telecom carriers with ties to that regime. This is a prudent step to ensure the security of America’s telecom networks. In the Show Cause orders issued today, we give carriers 30 days to explain why the FCC should not initiate proceedings to revoke their authority. They now have the opportunity to provide evidence showing that they are not subject to the exploitation, influence, and control of the Chinese government such that we should not look to revoke their authority to operate in the U.S. I look forward to reviewing the record that develops and reaching a final decision on those key issues.”
It’s unknown what impact the FCC’s actions will have on trade relations with China, although Beijing has vowed retaliation in the past when action has been threatened against one of its companies.