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Court Dismisses China Telecom Revocation Challenge as Premature

A gavel in a stock photo
(Image credit: Witthaya Prasongsin via Getty Images)

A court agrees with the FCC that China Telecom was premature in asking the court to review the FCC's initiation of license revocation proceedings.

That FCC asked the court to dismiss the China Telecom request as premature since license revocation proceedings had not concluded so there was not final agency action to challenge.

A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Court unanimously agreed, saying it could only exercise its jurisdiction over such final action and the FCC order in question is "neither a final agency action nor an appealable interlocutory or collateral order.

China Telecom can go back to the court when the FCC action is final.

Also Read: FCC Tells Court to Deny China Telecom Appeal

On the recommendation of other executive branch agencies, the Trump FCC under chairman Ajit Pai a year ago launched the process by asking China Telecom to demonstrate why it should not have its license revoked.

China Telecom responded, but the FCC was unpersuaded and began the official revocation proceeding, asking the executive branch agencies to provide written comments on what it thought of China Telecom's response. Their initial view of the company was that there were "substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks associated with [China Telecom’s] continued access to U.S. telecommunications infrastructure."

China Telecom appealed the FCC order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, saying that the revocation proceeding should be conducted via a more formal hearing or in-person hearing before an administrative law judge, rather than through the dueling written comments.

Also Read: FCC Flags More Chinese Telecoms

The FCC under Pai's successor, acting chairwoman Rosenworcel, defended the license revocation process.

The FCC has pointed out that it can always decide to add supplemental processes, presumably including in-person queries or more formal inquiry after it reviews the full comment record.”