AT&T pressured the Commerce Department to keep a Chinese military-controlled telecom company off the United States’ sanction list despite its use of forced labor and other human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims, former Commerce Department undersecretary Corey Stewart told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Wednesday.
Stewart verified allegations first reported by the National File, revealing that AT&T executive Ed Gillespie requested that the department keep China Telecom off of what is called the “entities list,” reserved for foreign companies who are engaged in human rights or national security violations.
The company, headquartered in Beijing, is involved in a joint venture with AT&T and was set to be sanctioned due to its alleged support of human rights abuses by China’s Communist government.
“It was very disturbing because we had a lot of indications, there is very good intelligence out there, that the Chinese government, through its basically state-owned subsidiary of China Telecom has been using cell phone technology, telecommunications technology, to track minority populations in China, to spy on them, and then to hand this information over to the China police state, and they are rounding up the Uyghur population…,” Stewart said.
Stewart cited intelligence revealing that the Chinese government was regularly “placing these people in essentially modern-day concentration camps, where there is widespread reports of gang rapes, torture, human rights abuses, potentially even executions and genocides happening in these camps, and China Telecom was assisting the government of China in helping to do that.
“When we learned of this, of course, the Trump Administration began to place China Telecom on the entities list, to put sanctions upon them, when we were contacted by Ed Gillespie, the executive vice president of AT&T, who urged us not to place China Telecom, despite these abuses, on the entity list. Needless to say, we were pretty much shocked by that.”
Stewart accused the Dallas-based company of prioritizing foreign interests and supporting China’s attempts to “undermine U.S. National security concerns.”
“Let me say this,” Stewart warned, “the career staff at the Commerce Department were clearly on a path to do this. If it does not happen, that will mean there was pressure from the Biden administration, put on it by AT&T to not put them on there.”
In a statement to “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” AT&T admitted that it did not want China Telecom to be sanctioned, saying: “Without a relationship with a licensed Chinese communications company, no non-Chinese provider can serve U.S. companies operating in China.
“In the absence of that, such support would be provided by a Chinese state-owned enterprise instead of AT&T or any other American company. We and other companies explained this to the Commerce Department and other government officials to inform their policy decision about potential unintended consequences of placing China Telecom on the entities list.”