US blocks China Mobile bid to provide telecom services

Washington (AFP) –


US regulators on Thursday denied a request by China Mobile to operate in the US market and provide international telecommunications services, saying links to the Chinese government pose a national security risk.

The Federal Communications Commission said that because of China Mobile USA's ownership and control by the Chinese government, allowing it into the US market "would raise substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks."

The decision brings the Chinese telecoms giant's eight-year effort to crack the US market to an end, but was not really a surprise since FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had publicly opposed the company's application last month.

China Mobile -- the world's largest mobile operator with nearly 930 million customers as of February -- first filed an application for permission to operate in the United States in 2011.

Composed of Democrats and Republicans, the five-member FCC said in a statement that the decision was made after "extensive review" and "close consultation" with national security and law enforcement agencies.

It also marks "the first instance in which Executive Branch agencies have recommended that the FCC deny... (an) application due to national security and law enforcement concerns," the statement said.

Chinese tech firms -- such as Huawei and ZTE -- have faced stiff resistance from US government agencies, which have described them as security threats.

Washington has barred the Chinese networking equipment company Huawei from developing the new ultra-fast 5G mobile network in the United States and has blocked US government purchases of its services.