USA scrutinise China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom

The Commerce Department is leading the probe, which involves subpoenas and ‘risk-based analyses’.

There is image of semi-conductors showing flags of China and USA

The Biden administration is scrutinising China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom over concerns that these firms could misuse their access to American data through their US cloud and internet businesses. The Commerce Department is leading the investigation, subpoenaing the state-backed companies and conducting risk analyses on China Mobile and China Telecom. These companies maintain a small US presence, providing services like cloud computing and routing internet traffic, giving them potential access to sensitive data.

The investigation aims to prevent these Chinese firms from exploiting their US presence to aid Beijing, aligning with Washington’s broader strategy to counteract potential threats to national security from Chinese technology companies. The US has previously barred these companies from providing telephone and broadband services. Authorities could block transactions that allow these firms to operate in data centres and manage internet traffic, potentially crippling their remaining US operations.

China’s embassy in Washington has criticised these actions, urging the US to cease suppressing Chinese companies. No evidence has been found that these firms intentionally provided US data to the Chinese government. However, concerns persist about their capabilities to access and potentially misuse data, primarily through Points of Presence (PoPs) and data centres in the US, which could pose significant security risks.