CHINA plans to use underwater cables in the Pacific to spy on other countries and steal information, according to reports.
It comes amid mounting tensions between China in the US over control over parts of the South China Sea as well as an ongoing tariff war.
China plans to use underwater cables in the Pacific to spy on other countries, according to reports[/caption]
The US government has expressed concerns to a number of Pacific island nations about a cut-price bid recently submitted by Chinese firm Huawei Marine to work on the Kiribati Connectivity Project, Reuters reports.
The $72.6billion project is part of an effort, financed by the World Bank, to improve internet connectivity on the island states of Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).
Huawei Marine was previously part of the Chinese-state linked Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, but has recently been divested and is now majority-owned by Hengtong Optic-Electric Co Ltd, another Chinese form.
A number of other companies, including France-based Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), part of the Nokia company, and Japan’s NEC Corporation, also reportedly submitted bids.
Sources told Reuters that Huawei Marine’s bid for the contract was more than 20 percent below its competitors.
Undersea cables are able to carry far more data in a given time than satellites, and in recent years have become a key area of concern for governments’ diplomatic and security efforts.
The US government reportedly sent a diplomatic communication to the FSM in July to express concerns about the bid, stating that the company is required to cooperate with the Chinese government’s intelligence operations.
The government Nauru, which is allied with Taiwan, has also reportedly expressed concerns about the bid.
Western nations, particularly the US, have frequently expressed concern about involvement by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd in infrastructure projects abroad.
In July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson U-turned on a decision to allow the company to build the UK’s 5G network, citing security concerns.
Despite no longer being owned by the firm, Huawei Marine remains on a US Commerce Department blacklist which prevents it from purchasing US goods or technology.
Speaking to Newsweek about the reports, Joanne Ou, a spokesperson for the Taiwanese foreign ministry, said China’s key aim in the Pacific region is to “monopolize [its] information and communication networks”.
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China has long hoped to take control of Taiwan, which it views as a renegade province and a key foothold for US power in the region.
“China’s foreign aid strategy has always been to expand its strategic economic influence, and has never been to promote the welfare of the peoples of recipient countries,” Ou said.
“Its strategic goal is to control the key infrastructure of relevant countries in the region and obtain big data in order to monitor each country and steal information.”
Undersea cables have become a key area of concern for governments’ diplomatic and security efforts.[/caption]
The US and China continue to vie for control in the South China Sea[/caption] Link