“Wartime Scenario” Unfolds As Taiwan Suspects Chinese Ships Cut Undersea Internet Cables
According to Taiwanese authorities, on Feb. 2, a Chinese fishing boat damaged an undersea communications cable that connects Taiwan’s main island to Matsu Islands. About one week later, a Chinese cargo ship severed another cable.
Located approximately 30 miles off the coast of China, the tiny island of Dongyin has quickly established a backup communication system, as reported by the WSJ. The new system uses a high-powered microwave radio to transmit data to Taipei. WSJ described the disruption as a “wartime scenario” and “in a potential preview of a Chinese attack.”
Taiwan has a network of fourteen undersea fiber-optic cables, some buried as shallow as 6 feet below the seabed. These cables are critical as they provide 95% of the island’s data-and-voice traffic.
If Western military planners learned anything from the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia made a considerable effort to severe internet infrastructure in the Eastern European country in the early days of the war.
The Ukraine war has demonstrated how vital the internet can be to a smaller country facing invasion, for both mustering global support and coordinating resistance. If China were to cut Taiwan’s cables, most of the island would be thrown offline, leaving it vulnerable. –WSJ
The loss of internet across the Matsu Islands has alerted Taiwan to the potential national security threat posed by Beijing, which considers the island nation part of China and has expressed intentions to take control of it.
WSJ said no evidence so far supports Beijing intentionally cut Matsu Island’s internet. Taiwanese officials have theorized that illegal Chinese sand dredging around the tiny island exposed the cables and allowed for accidental damage by vessels.
However, Taiwanese lawmakers warn:
“If an internet outage can happen on Matsu, the same could happen in Taiwan,” said Wen Lii, director of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in Matsu’s Lienchiang county.
And there’s good news for Taiwan — just like Ukraine — satellite-based internet service Starlink offered by Elon Musk’s SpaceX provides high-speed internet that neither Russia nor China can fully disrupt.
Wed, 03/08/2023 – 12:05
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