Washington (AFP)

The United States has threatened to ban China's state-owned China Telecom from the US market, citing threats to national security, a possibility firmly condemned by Beijing on Friday.

Major federal departments, such as Defense, Homeland Security or Trade, have "unanimously recommended" that the US telecom regulator, the FCC, "revoke" the authorization from 2007 that allows Chinese society to to exercise in the United States, the Department of Justice said in a statement.

The ministry said "significant and unacceptable risks" in "national security" and irregularities in China Telecom's operations.

He cites in particular cybersecurity and the role of China in "malicious acts" targeting the United States.

Washington has already accused Beijing of several large-scale computer attacks, notably against the credit agency Equifax in 2017 and the hotel giant Marriott in 2018.

The ministry is also concerned that China Telecom is permeable to "exploitation, influence and control of the Chinese government".

The recommendation is thus based on "the nature of China Telecom's operations" in the United States, which according to the ministry allows hackers sponsored by Beijing to engage in economic espionage and disrupt communication networks.

"The security of communications from our government and those of professionals, as well as that of our most private data, depends on (our work with) trusted partners in countries that share our values," said the Deputy Minister of Justice responsible for national security matters, John Demers.

On Wednesday, the American and British computer security agencies had warned of the resurgence of hacker attacks supported by states, and were pointing the finger at China in particular.

China Telecom also allegedly broke the law by failing to report the exact location where it stored data for its American customers, the ministry said.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, said on Friday "firmly opposed" to the American initiative.

"We urge the United States to abide by market principles, to cease its actions of using national security as a pretext and to politicize trade matters, as well as to end its unjust repression of Chinese companies," he said. he pointed out at a press conference.

In September 2019, two senators had already asked the FCC to ban China Telecom from the American market, for reasons of national security.

The FCC will decide in the last resort, but it is likely that the White House will get involved in the discussions, even if President Donald Trump has put aside the trade and technological war he is waging against China to devote himself. in the fight against the pandemic.

The Trump administration wants to ban from 5G networks developed in Western countries the Chinese giant Huawei, leader in this revolutionary technology for mobile telephony.

Washington claims Huawei technology would give Chinese intelligence services access to sensitive data. The company has repeatedly denied these accusations.

© 2020 AFP