(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to revoke licenses held by China Telecom (Americas) Corp., continuing efforts to purge the U.S. market of Chinese technology companies in the name of security.

The agency in a 4-0 vote at its monthly meeting Tuesday decided to cancel the permission to operate in the U.S. held since 2002 by the unit of China Telecom, which is one of three leading communications providers in China.

The FCC said the ownership of China Telecom (Americas) “raised significant national security and law enforcement risks.”

Since 2019 the FCC has moved against telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co., barred China Mobile Ltd. from the U.S. market, and moved toward ending authorizations for China Unicom Americas Ltd., Pacific Networks Corp. and its subsidiary ComNet. In June the agency proposed a ban on products from five Chinese companies including Huawei and surveillance camera-makers Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. and Dahua Technology Co. 

The actions reflect China-U.S. tensions that emerged under former President Donald Trump and continue under President Joe Biden. Conflicts have arisen over trade, cybersecurity, human rights, military rivalry and the fates of Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The FCC said China Telecom’s U.S. presence provides opportunities for increased Chinese state-sponsored cyber activities, including economic espionage and the disruption and mis-routing of communications traffic.

China Telecom told the agency it’s an independent business based in the U.S. and isn’t subject to Chinese government control. 

It offered to give U.S. agencies more visibility into its operations and to provide safeguards against any perceived risks, “but the agencies have refused even to discuss the matter,” China Telecom said in an Oct. 8 filing.

Big Three

Beijing-based China Telecom serves 370 million mobile subscribers, and 168 million fixed broadband subscribers, according to an Oct. 22 securities filing by the company. Along with China Mobile and China Unicom, it dominates the Chinese telecommunications market, according to a U.S. Senate report last year. 

The U.S. business’ contribution to the overall revenue and assets is small, China Telecom’s Chief Executive Officer Ke Ruiwen said during an earnings call in August 2020, without giving details. Its U.S. unit leases lines from American infrastructure providers and carriers to provide enterprise and wireless services.

(Updates with language from FCC order in third paragraph.)

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