FCC Chairman Threatens ‘Action’ Against Chinese Telecom Companies Over Spying

In just the latest signal from the Trump administration it’s prepared for a full-scale trade war, FCC Ajit Pai said in a letter to lawmakers he’s planning to “take action” against Chinese telecom companies like Huawai, ZTE, citing concerns over spying on behalf of the Chinese government.

Pai’s March 20 letter follows a recent bill introduced in February by Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, both Republicans, that would bar U.S. government entities from buying telecom equipment from Chinese companies.

Concerns over the Chinese government’s ability to spy through networks built with gear from ZTE and Huawei are nothing new, the Trump administration has already taken a hard line against Chinese telecom companies. But the recent public pronouncement by the government’s chief telecom regulator comes at a time when a trade war with China seems almost unavoidable.

 

Just last Friday the Trump administration imposed sweeping new tariffs on Chinese steel. He’s also asked Treasury for recommendations for placing limits on Chinese investment in the U.S.

In return China levied a retaliatory $3 billion on American imports.

Pai’s letter was vague and a spokesman for the FCC says there are no specifics yet about what moves the FCC is prepared to take. Whether his statements amount to economic saber rattling or a signal of something more to come, the clear takeaway is that the telecommunications industry will be in the dead center of any looming trade war with China, and beyond.

Featured image: FCC

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