US warns Pacific island nations about security threats posed by Chinese companies bidding to build undersea internet cable

Washington: – The United States has issued a stern warning to the concerned nations not to entertain China in the Undersea Internet Cables project in the Pacific Ocean. Chinese company Huawei Marine has prepared a tender to execute the project connecting three island nations in the Pacific Ocean. The concerned project also connects the cable network near the Guam Islands, the leading US base in the Pacific Ocean region. Therefore, the United States has strongly objected to Chinese participation. China has expressed strong resentment against the US warning to the island nations.   

East Micronesian undersea cable is being laid to make the internet services available in Micronesia, Nauru and Kiribati, the Island nations in the Pacific Ocean. The project envisages laying of an undersea cable of nearly 2,000 kilometres at the cost of about USD 72.6 million and World Bank and Asian Development Bank will be funding the project. Companies from Japan, France, Finland and China have submitted proposals for the project. Chinese company Huawei Marine, while presenting the tender, has claimed that it will execute the project at a cost 20% less than any other company.  

The new undersea cable to be laid will be connected to the HANTRU-1 cable network which is mainly used by the US government and links to the US military base in Guam. Therefore, the United States has bitterly opposed the participation of the Chinese company in a project connecting to the Guam network. The United States claimed that China, through the new cable, will steal sensitive information related to the US military base. Therefore, the United States has issued a clear warning that the Chinese company should not be entertained in the undersea cable project. A few months ago, the US administration had sent a diplomatic note to the Micronesia government, raising strong objections to the participation of the Chinese company. Micronesia and Nauru gave indications to reconsider their take on the involvement of the Chinese company after the US warning. But the island nation of Kiribati has continued to favour China. Against this background, the United States has once again sternly warned the island nations.   

Following the United States, even Taiwan has expressed resentment over Chinese participation in the project in the Pacific Ocean. The Taiwanese foreign ministry criticised that China will use this opportunity to participate in the undersea cable project for spying on other countries and stealing information. The intense reaction has been received from China on the pressure exerted by the United States on the island nations. The Chinese foreign ministry accused that the United States is purposely trying to defame the Chinese companies.   

In 2018, China attempted building an undersea cable network between the island nations Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. But Australia busted the Chinese plot by funding the entire project. History seems to be repeating in the east Micronesian undersea cable project.   

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