Trump Moves Against China Mobile Entering U.S., Citing Security

(Bloomberg) -
China Mobile
Shang Bing, Chinese Chairman of China Mobile, speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last February. (Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration moved against letting China Mobile enter the U.S. telecommunications market, saying the government-owned company would pose national security risks.

The Federal Communications Commission should deny China Mobile’s application, submitted in 2011, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said in a filing distributed by email on Monday. NTIA is a branch of the Commerce Department.

The U.S. and China have quarreled this year over trade, and U.S. officials have alleged that China engages in widespread theft of intellectual property. The U.S. is set to impose tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods on Friday, and another $16 billion may follow. China has vowed to retaliate in kind. President Donald Trump has also threatened additional tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports that could be implemented if China imposes counter-measures.

The American intelligence community and other officials found that China Mobile’s application “would pose unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks,” according to the NTIA filing. China Mobile, owned by China Mobile Communications, “is wholly owned by a sovereign state, the People’s Republic of China,” the agency said in the filing.

China Mobile was the world’s largest mobile phone operator in 2011, with more than 649 million subscribers, according to filing. China Mobile said it wanted to offer international voice traffic between the U.S. and foreign countries, and didn’t intend to offer mobile service within the U.S., according to the NTIA filing.

The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Trump administration blocked Chinese gear maker ZTE’s access to U.S. suppliers in April, saying the company violated a 2017 sanctions settlement related to trading with Iran and North Korea and then lied about the violations. The U.S. in June reached a deal to allow ZTE to get back in business after the Chinese telecommunications company pays a record fine and agrees to management changes.