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The Federal Communications Commission asks Justice Department to weigh in on China Unicom U.S. operations



The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked the Justice Department and other U.S. agencies to detail if China Unicom’s continued U.S operations pose national security risks, according to a letter released Friday.

In April, the FCC issued show-cause orders warning it might shut down the U.S. operations of three state-controlled Chinese telecommunications companies: China Telecom, China Unicom and Pacific Networks Corp and its subsidiary ComNet (USA). China Unicom Americas has a nearly two-decade old authorization to provide international telecommunications services to and from the United States.

The FCC asked the executive branch agencies “whether and how (China Unicom Americas) is subject to the exploitation, influence, and control of the Chinese government, and the national security and law enforcement risks associated.” It also asked “whether mitigation measures could address any identified concerns.”

The FCC letter asked the executive branch agencies to respond by Nov. 16.

In April, the Justice Department and other federal agencies urged the FCC to revoke China Telecom’s authorization.

The three Chinese companies’ U.S. units have urged the FCC not to revoke the authorizations.

Last month, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the commission “should complete these national security reviews as soon as possible.”

China Unicom Americas in a June 1 FCC filing said it had “a two-decade track record as a valuable contributor to U.S. telecommunications markets, a good record of compliance with its FCC regulatory obligations, and a demonstrated willingness to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement agencies.”

The company did not immediately comment Friday.

In May 2019, the FCC voted unanimously to deny another state-owned Chinese telecommunications company, China Mobile Ltd, the right to provide U.S. services, citing risks that the Chinese government could use the approval to conduct espionage against the U.S. government.