Wednesday 14 April 2021
News ID: 88283
Publish Date: 06 March 2021 - 21:52
PARIS (Dispatches) -- China’s underwater internet cable that will emerge in France later this year is expected to fuel further tensions between Beijing and Washington and put Europe under additional pressure by the U.S.
Chinese companies are building a 7,500-mile cable, known as Peace, that will connect Pakistan to France via stops along the Horn of Africa and Egypt before it crosses the Mediterranean.
The cable will emerge later this year in the French port of Marseille.
"This is a plan to project power beyond China toward Europe and Africa,” said Jean-Luc Vuillemin, the head of the French phone company, Orange SA, which will operate the cable’s landing station in Marseille.
The cable will largely serve to make service faster for Chinese companies doing business in Europe and Africa.
Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that the Peace cable will bring France under additional pressure from Washington.
French President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this year that his government does not want to isolate China from internet infrastructure under U.S. pressure, adding Paris won’t have to "fully depend on U.S. decisions.”
At a press conference with Macron at the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also objected to U.S. attempts to isolate China.
Merkel said that she did not think decoupling from China was "the right way to go, especially in this digital age.”
The U.S. has repeatedly accused China of using digital technology for spying. China has consistently denied the allegations.
Last year, then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the international community to "ensure the undersea cables connecting our country to the global internet are not subverted for intelligence gathering by the People’s Republic of China at hyper scale.”
China’s tech giant Huawei has been at the center of a long-simmering struggle between Beijing and Washington.
The administration of former president Donald Trump blacklisted Huawei to block the company from getting any U.S. telecom equipment contracts and prevent the transfer of American technology to the Chinese firm.
Huawei — considered the world leader in superfast 5G equipment and the world’s number two smartphone producer — is one of the largest shareholders in Hengtong Optic-Electric Co. that is building the cable.
U.S. tech giants, Google and Facebook, said they won’t be using China’s undersea cable because they already have enough capacity.
Even if they wanted to do so, using the Peace cable would have not been easy under the U.S.-led boycott of many Chinese telecommunications equipment makers.

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