UPDATE: Beijing lodges solemn representations with US over revoking China Telecom’s business license
Published: Oct 27, 2021 04:57 PM

An ad promoting 5G at the booth of China Telecom at the fifth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, East China's Hangzhou Province on November 7. Photo: VCG

An ad promoting 5G at the booth of China Telecom at the fifth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, East China's Hangzhou Province on November 7. Photo: VCG

China has lodged solemn representations with the US regarding the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s decision to revoke the authorization for China Telecom's US subsidiary to operate in the US market, China's Ministry of Commerce said.

China will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises, MOFCOM spokesperson Shu Jueting said at a regular press conference on Thursday.

This move by the US government generalizes the concept of national security, abuses national power, and maliciously suppresses Chinese companies without factual basis, violates market principles, and undermines the atmosphere of cooperation between the two side, Shu said.

The remarks followed media reports claimed that Washington has revoked authorization of the telecom firm's US unit, another move to suppress Chinese companies.

China Telecom has not received authorization revocation notice of its US subsidiary, an industry source told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

The fresh action by Washington, which came on the heels of a talk between senior Chinese and US officials held the previous day, signals that some interest groups in the US are deliberately creating new problems to bargain with China and try to influence China-US relations, analysts said. 

The insider, who asked to be anonymous with this interview, said that China Telecom's US division only accounts for a small portion of its overall business, and mainly serves China-US cross-border demand such as providing service for Chinese overseas students in the US.

China Telecom is not allowed to provide basic telecommunications services in the US market, the person added.

The revoking decision means China Telecom Americas must now discontinue its US services within 60 days. China Telecom, one of the three largest Chinese telecommunications companies, has had authorization to provide telecommunications services in the past 20 years in the US, Reuters reported. 

In May, China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom were forced to delist from the US stock market by the New York Stock Exchange.

The multiple delistings stem from investment restrictions put in place by former US President Donald Trump, targeting Chinese technology firms. US President Joe Biden has not moved to change the rules. .

The fresh action by Washington comes as senior Chinese and US officials on Tuesday held talks for the third time in October on economy and trade issues, following frequent high-level talks over the past months, offering hope that relations between the world's two largest economies may improve.

"Pledging talks on the table but launching fresh crackdown measures under the table, is a common US tactic that China should be prepared for," one industry source said.

The US' "carrot and stick" approach to trade with China is mainly aimed at pleasing some of its domestic forces, Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing who closely follows trade issues, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

However, abusing the concept of national security to wantonly crack down on the normal operations of foreign enterprises will hurt the interests of US consumers and damage the country's global prestige, raising more concerns among foreign companies as to how to operate and invest in the US, Gao said.

Qin Gang, Chinese Ambassador to the US, noted at the 2021 annual gala of the China General Chamber of Commerce-Chicago (CGCC-Chicago) on Tuesday (US time) that economic and trade cooperation has always been the ballast and propeller of China-US relations, and it should become a lubricant and stabilizer as bilateral relations are undergoing a new round of adjustment.

Industrial and commercial sectors in the US have shown their expectation of easing China-US relations, however, a force in the US is trying to "overturn the ballast", Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Three large retailers in the US removed the products of Hikvision and Dahua Technology, two Chinese technology monitoring manufacturers, hyping the so-called human rights issue, the VOA reported on Wednesday.

"Since they don't have many cards to play, they created 'new cards' such as Hikvision and China Telecom," Lü said.

Lü predicted that the uncertainty of China-US relations will persist, and it is expected that some US politicians will continue to come up with various problems to interfere the bilateral relations.