A submarine data cable linking the United States to Hong Kong appears destined to be rejected by the United States government because of fears of Chinese data theft.
The Pacific Light Cable network, supported by Google and Facebook, is designed to increase the speed and capacity of the Internet.
But a United States government committee known as “Telecom Team” has now recommended that the United States deny approval.
The decision is another sign of the growing tension between the United States and China, which is in trade war.
It is reportedly the first of these cables to be rejected by the United States for national security reasons.
What is the Pacific Light Cable Network?
Around the world, there are hundreds of submarine cables that provide Internet connectivity.
The new cable was announced in 2016 as a partnership between Google, Facebook and other companies.
Google said the cable would be 12,800 km (8,000 miles) long and would be the “maximum capacity trans-Pacific route”.
“In other words, [the cable] will provide enough capacity for Hong Kong to have 80 million simultaneous HD video conferencing with Los Angeles, “said the company.
The project would also have portions linking the United States with Taiwan and the Philippines.
The cable has been laid, reportedly at a cost of “many million dollars”, but needs approval to function.
One of the companies working with Facebook and Google is the Dr Peng group, a Chinese broadband giant.
What did Team Telecom say?
The committee recommended approval for the sections of Taiwan and the Philippines.
But on Wednesday, he recommended that the United States of Hong Kong be denied “for national security reasons”.
Their reasons included:
- “China’s sustained efforts to acquire sensitive personal data of millions of US people”
- “Access to data from other countries in China through both investments in digital infrastructure”
- “The Peng Group’s relationship with Chinese intelligence and security services and its obligations under Chinese intelligence and cyber security laws”
- “China’s recent actions to remove Hong Kong autonomy and allow Chinese intelligence and security services to operate openly in Hong Kong”
The final decision will be made by the United States Federal Communications Commission.
What is the background?
After President Trump took office, the United States imposed billions of dollars in duties on Chinese goods, with Chinese retaliation.
Trump had long accused China of unfair trade and intellectual property theft.
The United States has also targeted the Chinese technology company Huawei, calling it a threat to national security and is taking a more aggressive stance on Hong Kong.
China is seeking to introduce a security law in Hong Kong which is a special administrative region of China. But the United States and others argue that the law would threaten the city’s autonomy.
Trump said he would remove Hong Kong’s privileged status from U.S. law.
“China has replaced one country, two systems, with one country, one system,” he said in May.