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FCC Defends China Telecom Revocation Proceeding

FCC's 2020 seal
(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC has told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that China Telecom Americas' appeal of the FCC's launch of a revocation proceeding against the company is premature.

That is because the launch of a proceeding is not an appealable final decision, it told the court according to a copy of the motion to dismiss the FCC filed with the court.

Also Read: China Telecom Touts Security

"The Court lacks jurisdiction over China Telecom’s challenges because the underlying administrative proceeding is still ongoing and the [order] challenged here is not final agency action subject to review at this time," the FCC said. 

China Telecom challenged the proceeding itself because it is being conducted via a "paper hearing"--primarily through document submissions rather than a standard adjudication procedure. But the FCC said it still must wait until it issues a decision in that "paper hearing" before challenging it.

Also Read: China Telecom Has Some Explaining to Do

Last December, the FCC voted unanimously to initiate a revocation proceeding against the company after a number of federal agencies,* in what used to be called the Team Telecom national security review, recommended revocation. The FCC suggested revocation was warranted based on those agencies' conclusion that the company posed 'substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks associated with [China Telecom Americas’] continued access to U.S. telecommunications infrastructure.'"

The agencies cited the company's control by the Chinese government, its alleged failure to take all possible steps to protect its records and alleged misrepresentations about its cybersecurity practices.

Also Read: FCC Flags More China Telecoms

As with ZTE and Huawei, whose tech the FCC has tentatively found to be suspect and in need of replacing, the FCC's issues with China Mobile were concerns that current or potential Chinese government influence could make them a national security threat to the network security of critical 5G nets in the U.S. 

* Recommending revocation were the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Defense, State, Commerce, and the U.S. Trade Representative.