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Suspected Chinese Interference Causes Internet Outages in Taiwan

Residents of Matsu, an outlying island of Taiwan, have been relying on a very limited internet connection for the past month after two submarine cables leading to Taiwan’s main island were cut. This disruption to their lives has also caused significant implications for national security, and experts suspect China may have deliberately cut the cables as part of its harassment of the self-ruled island. The Taiwan government has not confirmed this, and the culprits have not been identified.

To access the internet, some islanders had to buy SIM cards from Chinese telecoms, while others had to go to the Chunghwa Telecom office to use a Wi-Fi hotspot.

While Taiwan stopped short of saying that Beijing was responsible, some experts suspect China may have cut the cables deliberately as part of its tactics to intimidate the island’s democratic government. Repairing the cables will be expensive, with an early estimate of $30 million New Taiwan Dollars ($1 million) for the work of the ships alone, and the earliest cable-laying ships can come is April 20.

The bright side: The lack of internet has also had some positive effects on the islanders. Bed and breakfast owner Chen Yu-lin has felt more at peace, and one soldier said that without the internet, relationships on the island have become closer.

What’s next: Overall, the disruption caused by the loss of internet in Matsu is substantial, and the Taiwanese government is looking into installing a surveillance system for the undersea cables and relying on microwave transmission as a backup option. They are also asking for bids from low-Earth orbit satellite operators to provide internet in a backup plan. Until then, the people of Matsu can only wait for the cable-laying ships to arrive.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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