Concerned about cyber security and possible spying, U.S. officials are considering denying China Mobile's license for providing international information service in the United States.
Officials from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Justice Department's national security division are concerned that the license would allow China Mobile to build physical infrastructure in the American territory, as well as to monitor and route Internet traffic. This would pose a potential threat to government information and the intellectual properties of American companies, according to an unidentified source.
"The U.S. Internet and telecommunication market has always been tough on Chinese companies, and the government's only explanation is security," said Yang Haifeng, Chief Editor of Communication World Weekly. "As Chinese companies expand business overseas, some American counterparts are struggling. Blocking the Chinese companies is not only protectionism, but also a political move."
The purchasing of Pakistan's fifth biggest carrier PakelLtd in 2007 was China Mobile's most successful investment overseas. It had 15.3 million subscribers in March 2012, up from 0.92 million in 2007. After that, China Mobile has been lagging behind its competitors, China Unicom and China Telecom, in terms of expansion in other countries, especially in the US. Both China Unicom and China Telecom had licenses to provide telecommunication and Internet services on the American soil.
"It can be a blow to China Mobile's competitiveness within the country, since the investment in the U.S. has been the company's strategic focus," said information expert Fu Liang.
If the U.S. government denies the license application, China Mobile should respond and make its voice heard, even by filing lawsuit, according to Yang Haifeng.
The company said on May 14 that the U.S. government is now processing the license application filed on September 1, 2011, and it has been actively responding and cooperating by providing any materials requested.