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USA adds two more Chinese carriers to ‘probably a national security threat’ list

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has added two Chinese companies to its list of communications equipment suppliers rated a threat to national security: Pacific Network Corp, its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet (USA) LLC, and China Unicom (Americas).

“Earlier this year the FCC revoked China Unicom America’s and PacNet/ComNet’s authorities to provide service in the United States because of the national security risks they posed to communications in the United States. Now, working with our national security partners, we are taking additional action to close the door to these companies by adding them to the FCC’s Covered List,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

The latest additions join Huawei, ZTE Corporation, radio-comms vendor Hytera, video surveillance systems Hikvision and Dahua, as well as Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, plus telecom companies China Mobile and China Telecom, who are already on the list.

The new companies earned a spot on the now ten-strong list as they are believed to be “subject to the exploitation, influence and control of the Chinese government, and the national security risks associated with such exploitation, influence, and control.” Therefore, they pose “an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States.”

The FCC essentially believes the companies won’t be able to say no to a request from Beijing that could include espionage or intelligence gathering.

ComNet also earned its place on the list because the FCC believes its interconnections to U.S. telecommunications networks and customers could facilitate economic espionage, intelligence collection, “or otherwise provide a strategic capability to target, collect, alter, block, and re-route network traffic.”

ComNet and China Unicom had already been barred from operating in the USA and, by labeling them security threats, the FCC has made it plain that doing business with either is dangerous for US companies.

At a more practical level, the listing also means US buyers that shop using federal subsidies such as the FCC’s $5 billion-plus Universal Service Fund are now prohibited from dealing with the the two companies. ®