The Trump administration has told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block China Mobile from entering the US telecoms market on national security grounds.
The state-backed telco has been tied up for seven years on an application for a Section 214 license to offer international voice traffic from the US to foreign countries, according to the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
However, it has been decided that granting such a license to a carrier funded by Beijing would present “unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks.”
“After significant engagement with China Mobile, concerns about increased risks to US law enforcement and national security interests were unable to be resolved,” said David Redl, assistant secretary for communications and information, in a statement.
“Therefore, the Executive Branch of the US government, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration pursuant to its statutory responsibility to coordinate the presentation of views of the Executive Branch to the FCC, recommends that the FCC deny China Mobile’s Section 214 license request.”
China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile phone operator with nearly 900 subscribers, but the vast majority are located within the Middle Kingdom, where it makes most of its money.
That’s why this snub will not have the kind of impact on the firm that the recent sanctions against ZTE threatened.
However, it’s yet another sign of the growing technology Cold War developing between the world’s two superpowers.
A Trump-fuelled trade war continued with promises on Friday of further tariffs on $34bn worth of Chinese goods, which Beijing said it would respond in kind to.
In the meantime, Huawei continues to be investigated for possible sanctions violations which could also see it penalized by the US authorities.
The hard line approach by the Trump administration also threatens to force an acceleration in Xi Jinping’s plans to become completely self-sufficient in the production of core technologies like processors.