Amid the NBA-China controversy, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said on Thursday that the situation is a “disturbing lesson” on Chinese government leverage.
“If the Chinese government has such leverage over NBA stars and the league itself, that raises the question, how else can they can export their censorship, their anti-Democratic values, and ultimately their control when it comes to even more important things like our 5G networks, the wireless networks of the future?” Ajit said in an appearance in “Fox & Friends.”
Pai's comments come after the European Union expressed concern that 5G networks could cause "security challenges" if they're exposed to state-backed companies. In a statement, the E.U. said that “security challenges” are likely to be more “prominent” on 5G networks, but did not single out any companies from China.
For consumers, 5G is likely to bring a lot of technological advancements, including the potential to replace home Wi-Fi networks, smarter artificial intelligence on phones and self-driving cars, among other products.
Despite those potential benefits, the 33-page E.U. report says, "the likelihood of the supplier being subject to interference from a non-EU country...[and that] such interference may be facilitated [by the]...the third country’s legislation, especially where there are no legislative or democratic checks and balances in place."
Pai also mentioned China pressuring Apple to remove the Taiwanese flag from its iPhone emoji list in Hong Kong.
“Just imagine if we have 5G networks that power all of our industries that work for our military. What kind of leverage the Chinese government could exert over the operators here in the United States if they want information about how we’re doing business, how we live our lives,” Pai said.
“That is a threat that I don’t think the American people are willing to live with and I am certainly not either as the head of the FCC,” he added.
Brooke Crothers contributed to this report.