Cutting undersea cable between Taiwan and Matsu sparks fears of Chinese interference

Author: Brian Shear

phosphorusImage credit: Chen Huang/WikiCommons/CC BY

two submarine cables Connecting mainland Taiwan and Matsu Outlying Islands constitutes Lianjiang County, It has reportedly been cut. Specifically, two power lines, the Thai-Malaysian 2 and 3 submarine cables, were reportedly cut. Cable No. 2 was cut by a Chinese fishing boat, and Cable No. 3 was cut by a Chinese cargo ship. Among them, the Taima No. 2 cable connects Dongyin Island to Xinbei Tamsui, and the Taima No. 3 cable connects Nangan Island to Taoyuan.

Because the cable was cut, Matsu’s internet speed became extremely slow. It took more than ten minutes to send text messages, and there were problems making calls. The problem has been going on for more than ten days, one of which is February 2 and the other is February 8.

Legislators Zheng Yunpeng (left) and Hong Shanhan (right) held a press conference on the incident. Photo credit: Hung Sun-han/Facebook

An international cable ship will arrive on April 20 and repair work is expected to be completed by the end of the month. The maintenance cost of each wire is NT$10 million to NT$20 million, and the daily operating cost is US$40,000. However, due to the slow pace of repairs, Chunghwa Telecom said it was seeking a faster solution and was in communication with other international cable ships.

To solve the problem, Chunghwa Telecom has allowed free Wi-Fi in Matsu’s stores and waived the fee for Matsu users this month. Likewise, Chunghwa Telecom is seeking to expand the capacity of its backup microwave system from 3.8 Gbps to 4.382 Gbps by the end of June, and to 8.148 Gbps by the end of the year. A fourth submarine cable linking mainland Taiwan to Matsu is under construction, Estimated completion date is 2025.

Huang Baozong, vice chairman of the National Communications Commission, said, no evidence yet The cables were cut due to Chinese sabotage. However, it is unusual for two wires to be cut so close together.

In fact, concerns have recently grown that China might take military action against Taiwan, rather than a full-scale invasion by attacking the island’s outlying islands. A severed submarine cable could disrupt communications and isolate Matsu for a considerable period of time, making it easier to launch an attack.

Over the past five years, the submarine cable connecting Taiwan and Matsu has been cut 25 times. In addition to the two that have occurred so far this year, Four times in 2022 and five times in 2021. Undersea cables are routinely cut by Chinese ships illegally dredging sand in Taiwanese waters.

A bipartisan delegation of politicians including NCC officials, KMT legislator Chen Xuesheng and DPP legislator Hong Shanhan inspected the microwave backup system on Tuesday.Subsequently, DPP politician Hong, director of the Lianjiang County branch Li Wen, Taoyuan legislator Zheng Yunpeng, etc. Hold a press conference Emphasize that the Tsai Ing-wen government is working hard to resolve this matter. Likewise, participants in the press conference called on Andrew Xia, the vice-chairman of the Kuomintang, to During his visit to China, he met Song Tao, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, and Wang Huning, the chief thinker of the Communist Party of China. Raise this with Chinese officials rather than simply playing the Chinese playbook.

331672405 927509388434387 4372050030494087426 n 1There have been incidents in the past where submarine cables between Taiwan and Matsu were cut. Image credit: Lii Wen/Facebook

That hasn’t stopped a backlash from the pan-blue camp, which seeks to deflect blame from China to Tsai’s government.Lianjiang County Mayor Wang Zhongming, Lianjiang County Legislator Chen Xuesheng, Lianjiang County Speaker Zhang Yongjiang, etc. Lianjiang County Council went to Taipei yesterday A press conference was held to condemn the inaction of the Tsai government. Lianjiang County is heavily skewed towards the KMT, although two members of the county council are pan-blue independents.

More broadly, attacking the central government of Tsai Ing-wen’s administration for providing sufficient resources to voters is a common practice among local pan-blue politicians in Taiwan, which is no different from Taiwan’s outlying islands. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been a particularly thorny issue given the distribution of vaccines and the relatively limited medical resources on the outlying islands.

However, after this incident, it remains to be seen whether more consistent action will be taken on the issue of Matsu going online. It is also possible that such events will lead Matsu and other outlying islands to give satellite internet access a higher priority.

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