By Ryan Tracy
WASHINGTON — The U.S. blocked a Chinese telecom giant from providing services via American networks, the latest sign of escalating tension between the two global powers.
The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to deny an application by China Mobile Ltd.’s (HKG:HK:941) U.S. arm, China Mobile USA, to provide international calls and other services. U.S. officials cited law enforcement and national security risks, saying the company is owned by the Chinese government and vulnerable to exploitation, influence and control.
“The Chinese government could use China Mobile to exploit our telephone network to increase intelligence collection against U.S. government agencies and other sensitive targets that depend on this network,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “That is a flatly unacceptable risk.”
The FCC’s denial comes at a sensitive time, with the two countries in the final stages of negotiating a difficult trade deal and financial markets on edge over the prospect of a deteriorating China-U.S. relationship. China Mobile is by some measures the world’s largest mobile telecommunications firm. The parent company didn’t immediately respond to an email requesting comment Thursday.
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