back to article China Telecom booted out of USA as Feds worry it could disrupt or spy on local networks

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has terminated China Telecom's authority to provide communications services in the USA. In its announcement of the termination, the government agency explained the decision is necessary because the national security environment has changed in the years since 2002. That was when …

  1. martinusher Silver badge

    Meanwhile.....

    We seem to be spending all our creative energy on figuring out ways to impede Chinese companies rather than trying to compete with them. This does not bode well for the future. Our creative and productive energies are being wasted as we just drift along imagining we're in a world that's threatening us from all sides, which it is in a way but definitely not militarily. We have nothing to offer people except threats and sanctions. That's not a good long term plan for an economy.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile.....

      These are not companies in the western sense though. These are just CPC departments disguised as companies.

      1. batfink Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile.....

        As opposed to, say US companies like Boeing, who are dependent on US government support. And we won't even talk about Lockheed.

        In a way, the western model is a mirror image of the Chinese. In China, a lot of these companies (but not all - ask Jack Ma) are arms of the Party. In the western system, particularly the US, the government is an arm of the large companies.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          Re: Meanwhile.....

          You are comparing one corporation that is dependent on government contracts to _all_ Chinese "companies" that are effectively ran by CPC.

          Apples to oranges.

          1. batfink Silver badge

            Re: Meanwhile.....

            If "all" Chinese companies are run by the Party, then why are the large property development companies (eg Evergrande, Modern Land) failing so badly that they're defaulting? And the Chinese Government has made it clear that there will be no bailouts - which you would expect if they're run by the Party.

            1. msobkow Silver badge

              Re: Meanwhile.....

              Why would you expect the Chinese government to bail out *foreign* debt? Nobody else does that, not Canada, not the US, not the UK. Some of us have protections in our nations for our *own* nations' interests, but not for foreigners.

              1. batfink Silver badge

                Re: Meanwhile.....

                It's not only the foreign debt. They've made it clear they won't bale out domestic debt either, with the exception of the Evergrande employees who have been basically forced to invest their own money in the company - something for which the bosses need to be charged with extortion for IMO.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @elsergiovolador - Re: Meanwhile.....

            They are both edible, contain lots of Vitamin C, grow in trees and so on.

            To me it is preferable for a company to be run by a government than it is for a company (private interests, search for profit etc.) to run the government. Believe me, I've spent the first half of my life under a Communist regime (not by choice) and I have a good understanding of both systems.

        2. ST Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Meanwhile.....

          > In a way, the western model is a mirror image of the Chinese.

          Except for pervasive religious persecution, genocide, labor camps, political trials, concentration camps, ideological tyranny, Winnie Xi The Pooh, absent independent judiciary, absent free press or media, absent civil rights, absent human rights, forced sterilization or imprisonment of members of specific ethnic or religious groups, constant surveillance of citizens and residents by the secret police, complete subordination of the state and government to the only political party in power, one-party system that maintains itself in power by violence or threat of violence, institutional totalitarianism, just to name a few.

          One main difference between a Western-model democracy and China is that the former would like China to progress to a more liberal system, while China would like the latter to regress to its own horrific model.

          At its core, China is a misery imperialist wannabe.

          Funny thing: I haven't heard of many Westerners asking for political or economic asylum in China. Maybe there's a reason for that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Meanwhile.....

            The problem with your list is that I can't find a single thing in it that the US hasn't already done or is still doing unapologetically. And of course, the US are not wannabes when it comes to imperialism, they've been doing it brutally around the world for a while now.

            So I think a more nuanced definition is needed here.

            1. ST Silver badge
              FAIL

              Re: Meanwhile.....

              > [ ... ] I can't find a single thing in it that the US hasn't already done or is still doing unapologetically.

              Really.

              That idiocy you just wrote would have more credibility if you weren't Anonymous Coward.

              Right now, it reads like you're being paid by China - or Russia - to write it.

              Go back to Facebook. It's up and working today.

          2. Spanners Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Meanwhile.....

            As you seem to need details, let me give you a few initial pointers

            Except for pervasive religious persecution

            Try wearing a Burka or a turban when in a US airport.

            labor camps

            The entire US "prison system" is labour camps. From the traditional chain gangs to number plate production. My understanding is that southern parts of the USA are worse for this but someone else will need to give examples.

            political trials

            Manning. And sometimes they get away and sometimes you haven't got them yet and are getting someone else to do your dirty work - Assange.

            absent civil rights, absent human rights

            BLM

            imprisonment of members of specific ethnic

            BLM

            constant surveillance of citizens and residents by the secret police

            FBI, NSA, CIA, TSA - or does it not count when they wander around in paramilitary uniform?

            I could go on but someone else should.

        3. llaryllama

          Re: Meanwhile.....

          This is a ridiculous statement. For better or worse, pretty much every country in the world supports their local manufacturers.

          The difference - and it's a whopper, my friend - is that heads of Boeing can say No to a US government request and at worst they may have some contracts taken away or some other financial repercussions.

          Try that as a Chinese company and you'll be spending quite some time in prison followed by a tearful apology to the Chinese people broadcast on national TV and some nice "tax investigations" to make sure you're taken down a few pegs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meanwhile.....

      It does all smell of protectionism.....

      1. TkH11

        Re: Meanwhile.....

        Protectionism? Protectionism or security?

        On the protectionist side, when have you known Chinese companies recognise intellectual property rights and copyright? Perhaps protectionism is not unreasonable.

    3. ZeroPete

      Re: Meanwhile.....

      It is impossible to 'compete' with the Chinese : they do not play by the same rule book, they don't even value their currency on a transparent basis.

      And they have a 'unique' position on IP.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meanwhile.....

        As opposed to who, the US, who are applying their laws globally, even to non-US corporation operating in non-US countries?

        They have their own little private rulebook too, so being unhappy about other countries doing the same sounds more than a little hypocritical.

    4. msobkow Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile.....

      American companies haven't "competed" with anyone in a long time. If a cocmpetitor shows up on the scene, they either get bought out and merged or the government is lobbied until the usurper is banned from the country.

      America "leads the world" on technology because they appy military jack boots to anyone who has the potential to beat them, not because their "the best" by a long shot any more.

      One need only look at recent news on the HPC front to realize that...

      1. Snake Silver badge

        Re: Delicate complaints

        "American companies haven't "competed" with anyone in a long time. If a cocmpetitor shows up on the scene, they either get bought out

        Because they are FORCED to sell out, of course! How foolish of me not to have noticed this weaponisation of economics!

        and merged or the government is lobbied until the usurper is banned from the country.

        I know! Airbus was thoroughly BANNED from the U.S. because they had the NERVE to compete against Boeing! British Airways was banned because they compete against United, Blackberry was banned because they competed against Motorola, Asus was banned because they competed against HP, VW was banned because they competed against GM, and worst of all (!) Lu France [Mondelez Int'l] cookies are banned because they compete against Keebler's chocolate chips!!

        IT'S HORRIBLE! I can't even get good European chocolates any more! They've all been BANNED!! Hershey had the borders sealed!

        Even CERN is really a conspiracy of American-owned shell companies to completely subjugate European scientific research!!

        Oh, wait...

        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        So would you wish to pull your foot out of your 'We-Poor-Continentials' mouth, or would you prefer in keeping your victimhood?

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Delicate complaints

          Airbus wasn't banned from the US but its subject to tariffs. Boeing lobbied for them because they claimed that Airbus was competing unfairly due to government subsidies of their R&D.

          Moving down the aeronautical food chain a bit you'll also notice that Bombardier and Embarer had to resort to being purchased by / partner with the Airbus and Boeing in order to sell their products in the US.

          The Federal government has a lot of powers to control international commerce, both directly and indirectly. Most Americans don't seem to be aware of this or regard this as a Good Thing because its directed at our Adversary du Jour. I don't because these powers, accumulated over many decades, are now being abused. Soft power needs to be wielded judiciously, not thrown around, because paradoxically the more you use it the less powerful it becomes. Ultimately we're threatening the primacy of the greenback which will have dire consequences for our economy.

          (Incidentally, while tariffs and stuff appear to work we should use Harley Davidson as a cautionary tale. They lobbied successfully for punitive tariffs against Japanese motorcycle manufacturers in the 1980s so that they could remain competitive. (Back in the 80s the Japanese were the Oriental Menace.) Fast forward to today and the Japanese manufacturers are thriving and H-D is struggling somewhat -- again. Their primary sales target is image based rather than technology based so they've not really developed competitive products but rather stuck with their niche market.)

          1. Snake Silver badge

            Re: HD

            Ugh, don't get me started on HD. The fools doubled-down on what they believe to be their "core market" - damn old farts who are aging out of riding, or even completely dying off. Old Fart CEO's believing their market to exist only of Old Fart Customers that are exactly like themselves.

            Ooh, color me surprised!!

            (I love FortNine's comment: "All we know now is one of [Harley's] best-selling models is a giant mobility scooter" [their 3-wheelers]).

            But trust me, from my eyes the rest of the motorcycle market isn't really much better in terms of myopia. The Europeans are all chasing one design: the R12[50]GS. Almost every motorcycle announcement above 900cc (until, say, the past 2 years or so?) seemed to be...yet another ADV, with their street-silly stupid 34-plus-inch seats and their bulky off-road pannier options.

            Because we all NEED an ADV in our lives! :rolleyes:

            1. DryBones

              Re: HD

              They got tired of breaking legs and losing skin because their 2 wheeler isn't inherently stable? Seems entirely sensible to me.

          2. ST Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: Delicate complaints

            > [ ... ] Airbus [ ... ] claimed that Airbus was competing unfairly due to government subsidies of their R&D

            And Airbus R&D isn't and wasn't subsidized by EU governments? Is that your theory?

            For starters, the tariffs were symmetrical. The US imposed tariffs on Airbus, and the EU imposed tariffs on Boeing. Economically, the net effect was zero.

            The tariffs didn't seem to affect Airbus' presence on US airlines' fleets in any way. Plenty of Airbus aircraft on US domestic flights.

            As of June 15, 2021, the EU and US mutually agreed to drop the Airbus - Boeing tariffs.

            1. msobkow Silver badge

              Re: Delicate complaints

              I find it interesting that so much of the discussion centers around Airbus, who bought out Bombardier's air craft production in Canada because the American Whingers couldn't handle competing with "subsidized" Canadian technology, all the while throwing TRILLIONS at the MIC *including* Boeing and Lockheed and ignoring the fact that they're as guilty as every other government on the planet.

              But no, we're *American*. It is *patriotic* when we do it; when *others* do it it is "government ownership and sponsorship" and COMPLETELY unfair to OUR heavily subsidized industries.

    5. llaryllama

      Re: Meanwhile.....

      I fully agree that western democracies need to start doing a lot more R&D and manufacturing like they used to.

      However there are still massive problems trading with China that must be solved.

      It might seem unfair for China Telecom to be restricted from operating in the US, but how many American telecom companies are allowed to operate in China? (I'll save you some time, it's zero). There are some areas where China grudgingly allows foreign investment (BT has some assets in China for example) but only with a majority Chinese holding and supervision from the central government.

      What is the cost of shipping products from China to the US vs US to China? (another hint: much cheaper).

      Why is China still allowed free trade under WTO rules when in practice many goods are impossible to export to China due to "national security" exemptions and other loopholes China uses to skirt around global agreements?

      1. Mark Exclamation

        Re: Meanwhile.....

        Exactly this ^^^^^^^^.

        It's time we played the same way as China does: no purchasing of Western companies, land, or indeed anything. When we can purchase Chinese assets without conditions, then maybe we can reconsider. We've let the Chinese purchase Volvo, MG, Fisher and Paykel to name only three of our best companies. Together, they have many decades of R&D, which is now in the hands of the Chinese for what amounts to crumbs.

  2. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    Coat

    Sharing is caring

    US to China: You do not want to share your exploits with us? Fine. GTFO!

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Sharing is caring

      So all the exploits are Chinese and we're not talking about the Russians doing anything? All these reactions are just politics ... it doesn't matter which country you are - the world is full of countries trying to fiddle around the world.

      America's pissed with China but who thinks that American is doing nothing out there?

  3. Bartholomew Bronze badge
    Holmes

    Time to mothball SS7

    I think that the energy would be better spent patching SS7 (Signalling System No. 7) vulnerabilities. Maybe even scrap the whole thing altogether because it was deliberately designed leak as much information as possible (built on solid 1984 spyware technology) and to replace it with say something like SSS8 (Secure Signalling System No. 8).

    (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_System_No._7#Protocol_security_vulnerabilities )

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Time to mothball SS7

      Or follow the UK's lead and switch everything over to VOIP. What could go wrong!

    2. TkH11

      Re: Time to mothball SS7

      SS7 is being patched by telecoms companies. Some of the vulnerabilities that were exploited in the past cannot be exploited now.

      1. Bartholomew Bronze badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Time to mothball SS7

        I do agree it is far better than it was, but there are just so many of them. Sometimes it is just best to stand back and look at a system to see what was done right and what was done wrong and start with a clean slate. Netapp WAFL or Sun ZFS filesystems are a good examples where a full redesign from the fundamental principals is better than continuous patching decades of built up crud.

        1. msobkow Silver badge

          Re: Time to mothball SS7

          You don't start with "a clean slate" when you're talking about the infrastructure glue that holds an entire nation's telecommunications grid together. The coordination required to upgrade from SS7 would be beyond belief and guaranteed to cause MAJOR outages repeatedly during the whole time things were being implemented.

          Even Telcos with their checks and balances just can NOT expect not to be hit with "gotchas" on such a major effort.

          1. Bartholomew Bronze badge
            Pint

            Re: Time to mothball SS7

            That is where you create new hardware that support both in parallel and eventually once the entire world is fully migrated (even if it takes multiple decades) the old interfaces are eventually retired. And if some telcos can not upgrade you provide crossover bridges from SS7 to SSS8. Maybe all new equipment connected have to support basic security. The reason the security bar is so low today is because every government and their dog needed legal intercept to be available, if not installed at least available as a future option (And even that has been turned against governments where they all had their phones tapped https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_wiretapping_case_2004%E2%80%9305 ).

            At the end of the day all it takes is lots and lots and lots of planning. And if possible never do a big bang switchover slow steady migration. Back end telco kit is pretty amazing stuff when it comes to making changes.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    because Beijing will be livid.

    Ah yes, this is for sure !

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: because Beijing will be livid.

      Not as livid as the Chinese nuclear company that were originally going to be paid billions for Hinkey Point (which we so desperately and urgently need to support our electricity grid against our bonkers plans of phasing out gas boilers and internal combustion engines), who having done a pile of work on it are to be 'kicked out' by the same politicians who said back in 2017 that they wanted to usher in a new age of trade with China..

      Not as livid as Huawei, who had their European headquarters in Reading with 5000 staff...

      Thanks Dom, Thanks Kwasi.. Now how many friendly trading partners do we have left?

      1. cyberdemon Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: because Beijing will be livid.

        Ok, correction: We're not (yet) talking about removing CGN from Hinkley, but we are talking about removing them from Sizewell and Bradwell. (FT)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: because Beijing will be livid.

        > Not as livid as Huawei, who had their European headquarters in Reading with 5000 staff...

        Huawei's European Headquarters have been in Duesseldorf as long as I can remember. They moved from one part of Duesseldorf to a custom-built building on Hansaallee in around 2011.

        Indeed Huawei's own website confirms this: https://www.huawei.com/ch-en/corporate-information/huawei-europe

        The Reading office appears to have been (you used past tense so I assume it is now closed) Huawei Technologies (UK): https://www.huawei.com/uk/contact-us

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This all boils down to

    one simple reason. It would be embarrassing for US that China could be able to see who's spying. Imagine the smile on the face of Chinese government when they grant access to US agencies so they can place the tap to intercept traffic. Priceless!

  6. Packet

    It just amazes me how much you're willing to give the Chinese a "pass"...

    Considering this being a UK based site - have we already forgotten the help provided by the US then?

    History matters - the Chinese are a threat, regardless of what happens in the US.

    Why you ask - because the western world plays by the rules - the Chinese don't.

    You have the freedom to be able to criticize without repercussion - something you would not have in a Chinese run world.

    This is not paranoia, this is factual - how the world works.

    You've become soft in the western world, thinking anyone in authority will listen to you - try that attitude in China and see how far it gets you

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Packet - Re: It just amazes me how much you're willing to give the Chinese a "pass"...

      When you say "anyone in authority will listen to you", you mean eavesdropping on you or caring about you ? Just asking!

      There is a difference between how the world works and how the US believes the world works. Oh, and yes, it is paranoia. Government induced paranoia. And they have that too in China.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Packet - Re: It just amazes me how much you're willing to give the Chinese a "pass"...

      Yes, history matters so let's start talking about the Opium Wars.

      You may start here : https://www.britannica.com/topic/Opium-Wars

      1. llaryllama

        Re: @Packet - It just amazes me how much you're willing to give the Chinese a "pass"...

        Ah yes, the classic Chinese debating tactic. When faced with difficult questions just bring up the Opium Wars.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @llaryllama - Re: @Packet - It just amazes me how much you're willing ...

          And Opium Wars never happened ? Anyway China was not the only country that was "civilized" by the British Empire. Do you want to change the subject ? I have some other glorious wars to bring to your attention.

    3. msobkow Silver badge

      Re: It just amazes me how much you're willing to give the Chinese a "pass"...

      The only ones who believe the Americans when they claim they "play by the rules" are Americans.

      Witness a long, long, LONG list of trade litigations that keep cropping up between the US and Canada. Canada keeps winning, and the US keeps imposing illegal tarrifs and the like.

      The protectionists in the US will NEVER learn that the world is NOT "theirs".

  7. mercyground

    Play stupid games. Win stupid prizes.

    China Telecom rerouted USA traffic via china several times. Once is an accident or a screwup with BGP routes. Multiple times? Hostile action. Thus you remove the problem.

    If China doesnt want to play by the rules then they can watch others on the playground from behind the fence.

    Also given how they are treating Hong Kong, Why would you give China a pass on anything right now? They basically told the UK that the day we handed HK back, all rules and promises were invalid. They are stamping out the two rule system because Xi wants it that way. Tibet was first. HK is next and Taiwan is soon. "China is asshole."

  8. llaryllama

    Some of the naivety on display when it comes to western opinions of the PRC is astonishing.

    China does not play fair when it comes to international trade, they are smart and extremely adept at pushing boundaries to get what they want. I don't even blame the Chinese, they are taking long-term advantage of a system that western democracies have handed them for minor short-term gains.

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