The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 4-0 on Thursday to revoke the 214 license of a China Unicom subsidiary on the grounds of “national security concerns.” This decision means that China Unicom (Americas) Operations Limited must stop all services in the country within 60 days. The company currently provides mobile services, leased lines, internet access and cloud services in the U.S.
As one of the three major telecommunications operators in China, China Unicom affirms it has been operating in compliance in the U.S. for nearly 20 years. In a document from June 2020, the firm said it has always complied with local rules and has no reason to be expelled from the the country.
This is not the first time U.S. authorities have made a move against a Chinese telecommunications firm. In October last year, the FCC decided to revoke the authorization of China Telecom Americas to operate in the U.S. A spokesman for China Telecom in the country said, “The FCC’s decision is disappointing.”
At that time, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued a statement saying, “The U.S. revoked its 214 license only by subjective speculation and suspicion without listing the specific illegal facts of our company, which is not in line with the image of a market-oriented country the U.S. has delivered to the world and also damages the legitimate rights and interests of global consumers including American users.”
The MIIT added, “In recent years, the U.S. has frequently sanctioned Chinese enterprises on the grounds of ‘national security’, ignoring the facts. This is an unreasonable suppression of Chinese enterprises by abusing state power and a serious damage to international economic and trade rules.”
Moreover, in 2019, the FCC rejected China Mobile’s application to conduct business in the country, also claiming at the time that allowing this “may seriously endanger the national security of the U.S.”