Chinese ships cut Internet of Taiwan’s outlying islands

  • Those living in Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, a group of outlying islands closer to neighbouring China, rely on two submarine Internet cables leading to Taiwan’s main island.
  • The first cable was severed by a Chinese fishing vessel about 50km out at sea on 2 Feb. On Feb 8, a Chinese cargo ship cut the second, according to Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan’s largest service provider and owner of the cables.
  • The islanders in the meantime were forced to hook up to a limited Internet via microwave radio transmission, a more mature technology, as backup. It means that one could wait hours to send a text. Calls would drop, and videos were unwatchable.
  • Apart from disrupting lives, the loss of the Internet cables, seemingly innocuous, has huge implications for national security.
  • Some experts suspect that China may have cut the cables deliberately as part of its harassment of the self-ruled island it considers part of its territory, to be reunited by force if necessary.
  • The cables had been cut a total of 27 times in the past five years, according to Chunghwa Telecom.
  • Taiwan’s coast guard gave chase to the fishing vessel that cut the first cable on 2 Feb, but it went back into Chinese waters.
  • So far, the Taiwanese government has not pointed a direct finger at Beijing.

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