FCC bans official Beijing Olympics telecom provider, says company subject to ‘control by the Chinese govt’

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The Federal Communications Commission has banned a Chinese Communist Party-linked Chinese telecommunications company from operating in the U.S.

The ban, authorized by a vote last Thursday, comes only days before the company, China Unicom, is set to provide its services at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. To be clear, the ban will not in any way affect NBC’s coverage of the event.

According to a press release from the FCC, China Unicom’s U.S. division may no longer “provide domestic interstate and international telecommunications services within the United States” starting “within sixty days” of the order.

As justification for the ban, the release essentially says that the company and that this relationship could easily wind up manifesting in Unicom basically spying for the Chinese government.

“China Unicom Americas, a U.S. subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned enterprise, is subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government and is highly likely to be forced to comply with Chinese government requests without sufficient legal procedures subject to independent judicial oversight,” it reads.

“China Unicom Americas’ ownership and control by the Chinese government raise significant national security and law enforcement risks by providing opportunities for China Unicom Americas, its parent entities, and the Chinese government to access, store, disrupt, and/or misroute U.S. communications, which in turn allow them to engage in espionage and other harmful activities against the United States.”

The release also accuses the company of displaying “a lack of candor, trustworthiness, and reliability that erodes the baseline level of trust that the Commission and other U.S. government agencies require of telecommunications carriers given the critical nature of the provision of telecommunications service in the United States.”

The CCP has not responded well to the ban.

In a Twitter statement posted Friday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the U.S. government of having “overstretched the concept of national security and abused state power to hobble a Chinese company.”

However, Unicom had already been on its way out of the U.S.

Back in 2020, then-President Donald Trump included the company in his Wall Street blacklist of Chinese companies allegedly linked to the CCP’s military.

“While inclusion on the list did not initially trigger any penalties, a recent executive order by Trump will bar U.S. investors from buying securities of blacklisted firms from November 2021, placing a cloud of Chinese companies’ increasingly important role in global stock indexes,” as reported at the time by Reuters.

Unicom, in addition to other blacklisted companies, tried appealing the order but lost last May.

“Shares of three major Chinese telecom carriers will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange after their appeals against being delisted were rejected, based on separate filings in Hong Kong,” as reported by Insider.

“China Mobile, China Unicom (Hong Kong), and China Telecom all said they expect the NYSE to request permission from the Securities and Exchange Commission to delist their American depositary receipts. This will take effect 10 days after the SEC is informed.”

Chinese companies have also been facing the boot in Canada over national security concerns:

The entire world appears to be turning against China, even as the entire world is gathering in China for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

The Washington Examiner notes that Unicom is listed as the Olympics’ “Official Partner of Beijing 2022.”

Moreover, Unicom is planning to rely primarily on Huawei’s 5G technology, despite Huwai having also already “been deemed a national security threat by the U.S. government and is blacklisted.”

All this news comes amid reports that the CCP is forcing everybody at the Olympics — “audience members, members of the press, and competing athletes” — to use an app, My2022, that poses an extraordinary surveillance threat.

“The problem, researchers say, is twofold: first, the app does not always verify that the servers where encrypted data is being sent are the intended servers, which could enable malicious actors to spoof or mimic that server’s identity to access those files,” The Guardian noted last week, citing a report from the University of Toronto.

“That could allow the attacker to, for instance, ‘read a victim’s sensitive demographic, passport, travel, and medical information sent in a customs health declaration or to send malicious instructions to a victim after completing a form.'”

Conversely, the app “is not encrypting some sensitive data at all,” which “means some sensitive data within the app, ‘including the names of messages’ senders and receivers and their user account identifiers’, is being transmitted without any security.”

Some say the app itself is proof enough of why Unicom, and really any CCP-linked company, deserves to be booted from the U.S.

Vivek Saxena


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