Australia, US, Japan to fund undersea cable project in Pacific

As the Western allies aim to counter expanding Chinese influence in the region, the US, Australia, and Japan have announced that they will jointly fund the building of an undersea cable to increase internet access in three small Pacific countries.

The three Western allies announced on Tuesday that they would build a cable to connect Nauru, Kiribati, and the Federated States of Micronesia to the internet.

“As the region recovers from the catastrophic repercussions of COVID-19, this will promote higher economic growth, drive development prospects, and assist to enhance living standards,” the US, Japan, and Australia said in a joint statement.

The project’s cost is yet to be determined by the three allies.

The development of the undersea cable is the most recent financial commitment from Western friends in the Pacific’s telecommunications sector.

The United States and its Indo-Pacific allies are concerned that cables built by China could jeopardise regional security. Beijing has rejected any plans to use commercial fiber-optic cables for espionage, despite the fact that they have significantly larger data capacity than satellites.

In 2017, Australia invested over 137 million Australian dollars ($98.2 million) to improve internet connection in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

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