Submarine cables are vital infrastructure that transports almost all Internet data. Taiwan is now warning that possible Chinese attacks might threaten the cables that connect the island’s Internet system to the rest of the globe.

As the Wall Street Journal reported on April 18, concerns regarding the fragility of Taiwan’s and several Asia-Pacific countries’ Internet connections have resurfaced due to the Ukraine conflict.

Notably, Taiwan receives and transmits nearly all its data and voice traffic via undersea cables. Officials estimate that 14 cables are currently in use, with four landing points around Taiwan’s coast.

Most of the island would be thrown offline if submarines or divers cut the cables at sea or if military strikes destroyed the lightly protected landing stations.

There are no indications that China intends to invade Taiwan, but the Chinese regime claims it hasn’t ruled out the use of military force to seize control of the island.

Ivan Kanapathy, director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia on the White House’s National Security Council staff from 2018 to 2021, said that China’s military doctrine indicates that it would seek air, maritime, and information superiority before attempting an amphibious assault on Taiwan.

Kanapathy stated, “Observing Ukraine’s highly effective use of media, Beijing likely judges that disconnecting Taiwan from the world would greatly improve China’s chances of success” if it invades.

Kenny Huang, chief executive of Taiwan Network Information Center, a government-affiliated cybersecurity and internet-domain-registration organization, said, “We’re very vulnerable.”

Alexander Huang, a former deputy minister in the government council handling relations with China and a security adviser to successive Taiwan governments, suggested that an early-warning system be devised to protect the cables from interference at sea, but no simple solutions exist.

Huang added, “We have known about this vulnerability for a long time but it is very costly to deal with.”

According to Asia Sentinel, almost all undersea cables that carry Asian data transmission traffic run in a narrow band through the Taiwan region.

In 2006, a quake struck the seafloor 13 kilometers off the coast of southern Taiwan, demonstrating the dangers of sabotage.

The earthquake damaged 18 undersea fiber-optic cables that handle billions of data transmissions throughout the Pacific Ocean region.

For days, communications in Taiwan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong were chaotic, resulting in billions of dollars in losses as essential financial and other information ceased to flow.

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