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Six nations partner to build undersea cable in Pacific

This comes after the US warned the island nations about a bid from a Chinese company last year to build an undersea cable

Six nations have partnered to improve internet connectivity in the Pacific by funding to build a new undersea cable for the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, and Nauru. 

Australia, Japan, and the US have partnered with the three island countries to build the new cable, which will provide high quality and secure communications to around 100,000 people. 

The group said this would support increased economic growth, drive development opportunities, and help improve living standards as the region recovers from the severe impacts of the pandemic.

The new cable is set to connect Kosrae (FSM), Nauru, and Tarawa (Kiribati) with the existing HANTRU-1 cable at Pohnpei, providing internet connectivity through a submarine cable for the first time.

“This six-country collaboration highlights our commitment to work together on critical telecommunications infrastructure and contribute to reliable and secure internet for the region,” said senator Marise Payne, Australia’s minister for foreign affairs. 

“We will continue to coordinate closely with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to ensure this project complements investments by these institutions to enhance digital connectivity in FSM, Kiribati, and Nauru,” she added.

Last December, the US warned Pacific island nations about security threats posed by a Huawei Marine’s, a Chinese company, bid to build an undersea internet cable as part of an international development project in the region, as reported by Reuters

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The project was designated to improve communications to the island nations of Nauru, FSM, and Kiribati. Washington reportedly sent a diplomatic note to FSM in July 2020, expressing strategic concerns about the project, as Huawei Marine and other Chinese firms are required to co-operate with China’s intelligence and security services, said the report.

Last October, the Australian government and Telstra, the country’s biggest telco, announced they would acquire the telecoms company Digital Pacific for $1.6 billion, in what was seen as a move to counter Chinese influence in the region. There were reports last year that state-owned China Mobile was looking to buy the company, with the deal said to be worth as much as $900 million.

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