The United States, Australia and Japan are joining forces to build submarine communications cables in the Pacific, in a bid to compete against China’s rapid expansion of its internet infrastructure.
The Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese daily, reports that government-affiliated financial institutions in each of the three countries will provide the loans needed for contracts in the development of the infrastructure, which is vital for not only security but the standing of the three developed nations to counter the risk of data exfiltration on Chinese lines.
Ahead of the widespread adoption of Elon Musk's Starlink, which aims to bring high-speed internet to every household regardless of location via a network of satellites, 99 per cent of the world’s international communications rely on submarine communications cables — a demand which continues to increase with the widespread adoption of broadband internet in developing countries.
Sources told the Japanese newspaper that officials from all three governments as well as industry leaders discussed the issue at an informal meeting, and agreed to build cooperation on submarine cables. They also agreed to share information on China’s activities and cooperate in financing the development of their mutually shared infrastructure in strategically important areas.
At the moment, companies in Japan, the United States, and Europe hold a combined share of the world’s submarine cables. China's Huahai Communications Technology Co., formerly a subsidiary of Huawei, trails behind with the fourth-largest share and is poised to overtake most local markets.
In concert with China's Belt and Road Initiative, the country has been laying down miles of cable to facilitate its economic development, which is poised to propel China to become the largest economic superpower ahead of the United States. China has additionally developed its relationships with numerous Pacific nations, including New Zealand, through a variety of economic incentives.
Asia News Network reports that Chinese companies are using subsidized low costs as leverage to win contracts with smaller governments. To compete with China, the United States, Japan and Australia will have to do the same — or at the very least, provide more reliable networks than their Chinese counterparts.
The publication additionally reports that NEC Corp., the Japanese multinational corporation, won a contract to build submarine cables to connect the island nation of Palau with the United States and other countries. The project is receiving financing from Japan, the United States and Australia.