Telecom

China Unicom, Pacific Networks Named as US Security Threats

 

A US regulatory body on Tuesday named several more Chinese telecom companies as threats to US national security.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said Pacific Networks Corp, its wholly-owned subsidiary ComNet (USA) and China Unicom (Americas) were security threats.

The designations come under a 2019 law aimed at protecting US communications networks.

In March 2021, the FCC initially designated five Chinese companies under its so-called “Covered List” – Huawei Technologies Co, ZTE Corp, Hytera Communications Corp, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co.

The FCC said these companies are subject to the Chinese government’s exploitation, influence and control, along with the associated national security risks.

They also raised concerns that the latest companies named “will be forced to comply with Chinese government requests for communications intercepts, without the ability to challenge such requests.”

The Chinese embassy in Washington and US lawyers for China Unicom and Pacific Networks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Earlier this year, the US regulator voted to revoke China Unicom’s US unit, Pacific Networks and ComNet’s authorization to operate in the United States, citing national security concerns.

FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel said the move was critical to protecting US communications networks from foreign security threats.

“We are taking additional action to close the door to these companies.”

In March, the FCC added Russia’s AO Kaspersky Lab, China Telecom (Americas) Corp and China Mobile International USA to the covered list.

In October 2021, the FCC also revoked the US authorisation for China Telecom (Americas) and in 2019, rejected China Mobile’s bid to provide US telecommunications services, citing national security risks.

Inclusion on the covered list means money from the FCC’s $8 billion Universal Service Fund may not be used to purchase or maintain products from the companies. The fund supports telecommunications for rural areas, low-income consumers and facilities such as schools, libraries and hospitals.

Earlier this year, the Chinese Embassy in Washington said the FCC “abused state power and maliciously attacked Chinese telecom operators again without factual basis. The US should immediately stop its unreasonable suppression of Chinese companies.”

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

 

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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