While President Donald Trump has long warned of the danger posed by China, the coronavirus pandemic gives those warnings new salience. What’s more, his administration is acting on them.
On Thursday, six executive branch agencies recommended that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) take action against China Telecom Corp., a telecommunication company owned by the Chinese government.
Revoke the authorizations
“The Department of Justice led the review of China Telecom’s authorizations, and it based the recommendation on developments since the authorizations were last transferred in 2007, including China Telecom’s failure to comply with the terms of an existing agreement with the Department,” a Department of Justice statement read.
“In its recommendation, the Executive Branch agencies identified substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks associated with China Telecom’s operations, which render the FCC authorizations inconsistent with the public interest.”
The statement also quoted Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers as saying, “Today, more than ever, the life of the nation and its people runs on our telecommunications networks.”
“The security of our government and professional communications, as well as of our most private data, depends on our use of trusted partners from nations that share our values and our aspirations for humanity. Today’s action is but our next step in ensuring the integrity of America’s telecommunications systems.”
One of the issues that the statement cited was “the evolving national security environment since 2007 and increased knowledge of the PRC’s role in malicious cyber activity targeting the United States.”
Also mentioned was “the nature of China Telecom’s U.S. operations, which provide opportunities for PRC (People’s Republic of China) state-actors to engage in malicious cyber activity enabling economic espionage and disruption and misrouting of U.S. communications.”
Biden denies Chinese threat
Meanwhile, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro sounded off on how America has become too dependent on foreign sources — especially China — for critical goods.
“One of the things that this crisis has taught us is that we are dangerously over-dependent on a global supply chain for our medicines, like penicillin; our medical supplies, like masks; and our medical equipment, like ventilators,” Navarro said on April 3.
The Trump administration’s hawkish outlook stands in sharp contrast to remarks that former Vice President Joe Biden has made regarding China.
At a campaign event in 2019, Biden dismissed the Chinese as “not a competition for us,” adding, “They can’t figure out how they’re gonna deal with the corruption that exists within the system.”