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US Bans Telecom Giant, China Unicom over Security and Espionage Concerns

The United States has banned Chinese telecoms giant, China Unicom from operating in the country over “significant” national security and espionage concerns.

The firm must stop providing telecoms services in America within 60 days.

The announcement comes after another Chinese company, China Telecom, had its licence to operate in the US revoked in October.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it had voted unanimously to revoke authorisation for the company’s American unit to operate in the US.

FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement: “There has been mounting evidence – and with it, a growing concern – that Chinese state-owned carriers pose a real threat to the security of our telecommunications networks.”

Responding, China Unicom said its American unit “has a good record of complying with relevant US laws and regulations and providing telecommunication services and solutions as a reliable partner of its customers in the past two decades”.

“China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited will closely follow the development of the situation,” it added.

Chinese technology and telecoms companies, have been targeted in recent years by US authorities over national security concerns.

In November, President Joe Biden signed a new legislation that stops companies judged to be a security threat from receiving new telecoms equipment licences.

Under the new law called the Secure Equipment Act, the FCC should no longer review applications from companies the US see as a threat.

The law means that equipments from Huawei, ZTE and three other Chinese companies cannot be used in US telecoms networks.

According to the Pentagon, some of the Chinese firms are helping develop the Chinese military’s quantum computing programme.

US officials said the Chinese government’s control of the company gave it the opportunity “to access, store, disrupt, and/or misroute US communications”.

This in turn could allow it “to engage in espionage and other harmful activities against the US”, they said.

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