As Trump’s trade war with China escalates, and is set to go live this Friday when $34 billion in Chinese exports are hit with a 25% tariff, exhausted traders and concerned investors are wondering where the next surprise from the Trump administration will come from: after all, after backing off on ZTE (to get China’s blessing on the North Korea summit) Trump then promptly pivoted and nearly blocked all Chinese investments in the US, prompting a furious response from Beijing. Meanwhile, the White House somehow threatened to impose over $600 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports even.
Meanwhile, as part of the verbal escalations, the White House has proposed nearly $800 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, which would cripple the global economy and unleash a global depression if fully implemented.
And now according to Bloomberg, on Monday Trump is going back to the Huawei/ZTE playbook, after on the Trump administration moved against letting another Chinese telecom giant, China Mobile, enter the U.S. telecommunications market, saying the state-owned enterprise would pose national security risks.
According to a filing distributed on Monday by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (a branch of the Commerce Department), the Federal Communications Commission should deny China Mobile’s application, submitted in 2011. China Mobile said it wanted to offer international voice traffic between the U.S. and foreign countries, but didn’t intend to offer mobile service within the U.S., according to the NTIA filing.
Like in the case of ZTE and Huawei, the NTIA filing said that the US intelligence community and other officials found that China Mobile’s application “would pose unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks.”
China Mobile, owned by China Mobile Communications Corp., “is wholly owned by a sovereign state, the People’s Republic of China,” the agency said in the filing.
Of course, China Mobile is also something else: it was the world’s largest mobile phone operator in 2011, with more than 649 million subscribers, according to filing (and is probably that 7 years later).
In April, Trump blocked Chinese telecom gear maker ZTE Corp.’s access to U.S. suppliers in April, saying the company violated a 2017 sanctions settlement related to trading with Iran and North Korea and then lied about the violations. Last month, the U.S. reached a deal to allow ZTE to get back in business after the Chinese telecommunications company pays a record fine and agrees to management changes.
Now, following yet another targeted attack at a prominent Chinese company, it is only a matter of time before China responds in kind, and considering the size and prominence of China Mobile, one wonders how long until China takes aim at none other than the world’s largest company, Apple.
The full NTIA filing is below: