China Telecoms Firms to Build $500m Undersea Internet Cable Network to Challenge US

Three Chinese state-owned telecom companies are working on a $500 million undersea fiber-optic internet cable network. The network will link Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The cable network is launching when tensions between the US and China have peaked as the two countries compete for dominance in every sector.

China telecom firms are creating a $500M undersea internet cable network

China Telecommunications Corporation, China Mobile Limited and China United Network Communications Group are developing the cable network. The three are state-owned telecom firms working on the proposed EMA (Europe-Middle East-Asia) cable.

The cable will be developed at around $500 million, linking Hong Kong to China’s Hainan province, Singapore, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and France. HMN Technologies Co Ltd, based in China, will lay the cable.

According to Reuters, HMN Tech will obtain subsidies from the Chinese government to build the cable. HMN Tech is majority-owned by Hengtong Optic-Electric Co Ltd, a company listed in Shanghai.

The Chinese firms plan to finalize the contracts for this cable by the end of the year. The EMA cable is set to start functioning by the end of 2025. Once launched, this cable will give China an edge in its competition with the US.

If this cable is launched, it will ease connections between Shanghai, Hong Kong, and other countries, which will be a blow to the US. Chinese state-owned telecom carriers will also have more dominance and protection if not included in US-backed cables.

Tussle between Washington and Shanghai

The US and China have been tussling over advanced technologies, and the global internet infrastructure is the new focus. The launch of the EMA cable could divide the internet infrastructure globally in the coming years. Countries might be forced to pick between Chinese or US-backed networks, which will create more divisions globally and undermine the reliability of the internet.

The cable is being launched after reports that the US government undermined China’s efforts to set up undersea cable projects abroad in the last four years because of concerns about spying on internet data. The US government also failed to approve licenses for private subsea cables that could have linked the US with Hong Kong.

The Chinese EMA cable project will compete against another cable project set up by SubCom LLC known as SeaMeWe-6. This US-backed cable will connect Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe. HMN Tech was initially contracted for the SeaMeWe-6 cable but was dropped after pressure from the US government.

The battle between China and the US has focused on hardware and software. The two countries have been at loggerheads over search engines and social media apps. The US banned the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok on government devices amid concerns over national security.

The White House Press Secretary, Jean-Pierre, alluded that the US government supported a TikTok ban.

The bottom line is that when it comes to potential threats to our national security, when it comes to the safety of Americans, when it comes to privacy, we’re going to speak out, and we’re going to be very clear about that, and the president has been over the last two years.


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