Tensions With China Emerge Over Undersea Cables Carrying Internet Traffic

FILE – A ship rolls out fiber-optic cable, suspended from buoys, off La Guaira along the Venezuelan coast, Jan. 22, 2011. Undersea cables carry nearly all intercontinental internet traffic but are subject to many hazards, such as earthquakes and sabotage.


Undersea cables that carry the bulk of intercontinental internet traffic are increasingly the focal point of geopolitical tensions involving China, according to experts.

Justin Sherman, a fellow at the Cyber Statecraft Initiative of the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, told Reuters, “When we talk about U.S.-China tech competition, when we talk about espionage and the capture of data, submarine cables are involved in every aspect of those rising geopolitical tensions.”

The cables are a hot spot in China’s relations with Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing considers its own territory — a long-standing point of contention between the U.S. and China.

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