Washington: The United States threatened Thursday to cut off Beijing-controlled China Telecom from serving the US market because of legal and security risks, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
A recommendation by the government's top departments, including Defense, State and Homeland Security, said that the Federal Communications Commission should "revoke and terminate" all authorizations for the Chinese giant's US subsidiary, China Telecom (Americas), to provide international telecommunications services to and from the United States.
"The Executive Branch agencies identified substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks associated with China Telecom's operations, which render the FCC authorizations inconsistent with the public interest," the Justice Department said in a statement.
If approved, the move could mean that China Telecom's hundreds of millions of phone and internet customers it is China's second largest mobile phone operator could lose connectivity with or through the United States.
The recommendation has to be decided upon by the FCC, but will almost certainly involve the White House, where it could be weighed amid ongoing trade negotiations with Beijing.
It came just five days after President Donald Trump's administration formed an interdepartmental body to formally review national security concerns related to foreign telecommunications companies involved in the United States.
The statement Thursday did not explain specifically what China Telecom had done to spark the recommendation that it be ousted from US telecommunications services.
It said the company has inaccurately reported to US authorities where it stores its US records and how it manages cybersecurity.
US national security officials have displayed increasing wariness of Chinese telecommunications firms and technology.
Washington has banned Huawei, the world's largest provider of telecoms equipment and a leader in the new 5G technology, from supplying US government systems and has strongly discouraged use of its equipment by the US private sector.
The US Justice Department has also issued indictments against a number of Chinese it accused of participating in hacking operations and commercial secrets theft under the Chinese government's auspices....