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(Adds China Telecom's no immediate comment, background)
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Thursday declined China Telecom Corp's emergency bid to halt a U.S. Federal Communications Commission order withdrawing its authority to provide services in the United States.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Columbia rejected the bid by the U.S. arm of China Telecom to temporarily block the FCC order, which takes effect in early January, pending a full review of its legal challenge.
China Telecom had warned it must notify U.S. customers of the decision by Saturday and said that without a temporary halt to the FCC action, it "will be forced to cease significant operations, irreparably harming its business, reputation, and relationships."
The court said it would issue a schedule to consider the legal arguments. But that is likely to take months.
The carrier, which did not immediately comment on Thursday, was ordered by the FCC on Oct. 26 to discontinue U.S. services by early January.
The FCC said China Telecom "is subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government and is highly likely to be forced to comply with Chinese government requests without sufficient legal procedures subject to independent judicial oversight."
China Telecom, which has been authorized for 20 years to provide telecommunications services in the United States, had more than 335 million subscribers worldwide in 2019. It also provides services to Chinese government facilities in the United States and warned the FCC action would force it "to end its entire resold mobile resale service in the U.S."
In March, the FCC began efforts to revoke the authorization for China Unicom Americas, Pacific Networks and its wholly owned subsidiary ComNet to provide U.S. telecommunications services.
In May 2019, the FCC voted to deny state-owned Chinese telecom firm China Mobile Ltd the right to provide U.S. services.
Last year, the FCC designated Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp as national security threats to communications networks. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Peter Cooney)