The US wants to kill part of an 8,000 mile-long undersea cable linking Hong Kong with LA over China spying fears

Undersea ocean cable underwater
Undersea cables provide internet all over the world.

Getty/ullstein bild/Contributor

  • In 2016 Google and Facebook announced a new high-speed undersea cable connecting Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

  • The cable is now laid, but a DOJ committee has advised the FCC deny approval for the Hong Kong section of the cable.

  • The committee is worried the cable could be tapped by the Chinese government.

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The US government seems poised to stunt a multimillion undersea cable project by Google and Facebook.

The cable is part of the Pacific Light Cable Network and was announced in 2016. Google said at the time the cable would be 8,000 miles long and span the Pacific Ocean, linking Los Angeles with Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines. It is designed to manage 120 terabytes of data per second, or 80 million HD videoconference calls between LA and Hong Kong, according to Google's statements in 2016.

A Depart of Justice committee called Team Telecom has now recommended to the FCC that the part of the cable connecting Hong Kong be rejected on security grounds.

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The committee said it fears a cable to Hong Kong could be vulnerable to being tapped by the Chinese government, and is particularly concerned by the fact a large investor in the cable was a Hong Kong-based company called Dr. Peng Ltd which it says is the "fourth largest provider of telecommunications services in the PRC [People's Republic of China]."

More broadly it says the cable could help China make Hong Kong a pan-Asian Pacific telecommunications hub, meaning US data would be more likely to pass through Chinese infrastructure even if China wasn't its final destination.

The US government's fears were heightened is due to "the PRC government's recent actions to remove Hong Kong's autonomy and allow for the possibility that PRC intelligence and security services will operate openly in Hong Kong."

In May China introduced sweeping new legislation for Hong Kong, cracking down on dissent and taking away many of the region's semi-autonomous powers, sparking widespread protests.

Team Telecom said the portions connecting the US with Taiwan and the Philippines should be allowed to function.

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