The Federal Communications Commission banned two more Chinese-owned telecommunication companies from operating in the US market, as it continues to be wary that companies with ties to the Chinese government could pose national security threats.
In a 4-0 vote on Wednesday, the agency barred Pacific Networks and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet from providing domestic and international service to customers in the US. The move is the latest in a series of actions the FCC has taken to guard against potential espionage in US communications networks from China. In January, the FCC revoked China Unicom's authorization to operate in the US, and last year did the same for China Telecom Americas. It has also banned gear from telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE.
The agency's vote on Wednesday is part of a greater effort by the US government to crack down on China's role in US telecommunications, amid concerns that equipment or services operated by Chinese companies with close ties to the Chinese government could be used to gather intelligence and spy on Americans.
The move is another indication that President Joe Biden is following a similar hard-line policy toward China to that of his predecessor, President Donald Trump, who also banned 5G wireless technology from Chinese companies.
National security agencies have warned for years of the dangers of using gear from Chinese companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, and of letting Chinese telecommunications service providers operate in the US. Politicians on Capitol Hill have been sounding the alarm, too.
FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said the agency's actions are part of a greater effort to ensure that Americans trust the security of the US communications networks.
"Communications networks depend on trust," she said. "That's why during the past year the Federal Communications Commission has made it a priority to increase trust with a series of initiatives to support network security."
Chinese officials have long denied allegations that state-owned companies are being used for espionage in the US. They say that there is no evidence to support the US claims and that the bans are a tactic to stifle competition from Chinese companies.
"The US has flagrantly overstretched the concept of national security and abused state power to hobble a Chinese company, which gravely undermines international trade rules and hurts the legitimate rights and interests of global consumers including those in the US," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, during a press conference in January. "The Chinese government supports companies concerned in defending their own interests in accordance with law, and will continue to take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies."