China could have deliberately severed the two undersea cables linking Lienchiang County as part of a targeted campaign or “dry run” to cut the entire nation off from the Internet, a security analyst said.
“It is not uncommon for undersea cables to be damaged — but losing two in a row is either really unfortunate or quite possibly not a coincidence,” American Enterprise Institute senior research fellow Elizabeth Braw wrote in Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.
Internet access in Lienchiang County is provided through two marine telecom cables, Taima No. 2 and Taima No. 3.
Photo: Yu Chao-fu, Taipei Times
A Chinese fishing boat severed the No. 2 cable, while the No. 3 cable was cut by an unknown freighter — incidents occurring separately on Feb. 2 and Feb. 8 respectively, the National Communications Commission said on Thursday last week.
Although Taiwanese officials said that at least one of the incidents was a mishap, Chinese vessels have been regularly causing damage to undersea cables, Braw said.
“It is especially striking because it is no mystery where the world’s 380 undersea cables are located,” she said. “On the contrary, there are maps detailing their location to ensure that fishing vessels do not accidentally harm them while dragging their nets.”
The damage to the links has severely curbed telecom services in Lienchiang County, disrupted Internet access, and slowed text messaging and picture-sending to a crawl, with repairs not expected to be completed before the end of April, she said.
How the country responds to the issues are likely being observed by Beijing, which deems the nation’s tenuous link to its outlying islands a military weakness that can be exploited, she said.
Citing the International Cable Protection Committee, Braw said that there are about 100 to 200 cases of damage to undersea cables every year, only 50 to 100 of which involve fishing boats.
“The incidents involving damage to the cables connecting the Matsu Islands are, in other words, disproportionately frequent,” she said, adding that accidentally damaging just one cable would have required “an unbelievable amount of bad luck.”
Reports of damage to cables off Lienchiang County primarily revolved around Chinese excavators illegally dredging sand in Taiwanese waters, which is a form of “classic gray-zone aggression” that inflicts harm on Taiwan’s maritime cables and environment, Braw said.
“Cable sabotage could become our era’s blockade, and unlike past generations’ blockades, it can be conducted on the sly,” she said.
OFFLINE: People who do not wish to register can get the money from select ATMs using their bank card, ID number and National Health Insurance card number Online registration for NT$6,000 (US$196.32) cash payments drawn from last year’s tax surplus is to open today for eligible people whose national ID or permanent residency number ends in either a zero or a one, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday. Officials from the ministry revealed which days Taiwanese and eligible foreigners would be able to register for the cash payments at a joint news conference with the Ministry of Digital Affairs. Online registration is to open tomorrow for those whose number ends in a two or three; on Friday for those that end in a four or five: on Saturday
TECH PROGRAM: A US official said that an important part of the delegation’s trip would be to meet with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co executives The US is to send officials in charge of chip development to Taiwan, Japan and South Korea to promote cooperation in the global semiconductor supply chain, the US Department of Commerce said on Tuesday. Chips Program Office Director Michael Schmidt announced the visit, which marks the first time officials from the office are to visit the three nations since it was set up in September last year. “As semiconductors and technologies continue to evolve, the United States will keep working with allies and partners to develop coordinated strategies to ensure that malign actors cannot use the latest technologies to undermine our collective
Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) officials are investigating why a Starlux Airlines flight to Penang, Malaysia, returned to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport nearly two hours after takeoff yesterday morning. The airline said in a statement that Flight JX721 to Penang took off from Taoyuan airport at 9:20am. “After the dashboard showed a signal of an abnormality in the hydraulic system, the captain followed standard operating procedures and returned the flight to Taoyuan airport for safety precautions,” the airline said, adding that the flight landed safely at the airport at 11:04am. The airline arranged for the passengers to have lunch after the flight landed and
WORKING UP AN APPETITE: Sales at the Rueifong Night Market surged 20 to 30 percent, while seats at Liouhe Night Market were packed until 1am, market officials said South Korean pop band Blackpink’s concerts over the weekend in Kaohsiung helped draw large crowds to local night markets, the Kaohsiung City Government said yesterday. The two concerts on Saturday and Sunday at Kaohsiung National Stadium drew more than 90,000 people. The city government offered NT$50 vouchers to spend locally to concertgoers who showed their ticket stubs. Liouhe Night Market (六合夜市) management committee head Chuang Chi-chang (莊其章) said that crowds over the weekend surged at about 10pm and the market remained packed until 1:30am. “Almost all the seats were filled,” Chuang said. Night market stall owners had stocked up in expectation of an increased number