Published: 12:35, May 21, 2024
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Washington's hawks aim at 'subsea Cold War'
By China Daily

The China hawks in Washington are up to their tricks again, trying to suppress Chinese companies and disrupt normal economic activities with the aim of hurting China. This time it is undersea telecommunication cables that are the focus of their attention.

Such cables are an essential part of the global digital infrastructure. Given this, the China hawks are now trying to leverage this fact to support their efforts to sever China from the international system. Reportedly, US government officials are privately warning telecom operators of "security risks" posed by Chinese involvement in undersea cable repair. Chinese vessels participating in the maintenance of undersea cables may endanger US business and military data security, they claim.

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Ranking officials of the Joe Biden administration have reportedly been briefed on the potential "security threats" posed by Chinese companies. Claiming that the Chinese vessels involved in such work are "hiding" their locations from radio and satellite tracking services, the scaremongers allege that China might be stealing data, mapping the seabed, and eavesdropping on US military telecommunications.

Though industry insiders have pointed out the signal loss involved may be a result of unstable satellite coverage, the evangelical preachers of such a "China threat" allege that Chinese vessels may tamper with US subsea cables during maintenance operations.

A spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in the US rejected the allegation that China's involvement poses a security threat and firmly opposed the US' smearing of Chinese enterprises.

Relations between China and the US are at their lowest point since diplomatic relations were established, and the Biden administration is convinced the US is in a decisive strategic struggle with China. While senior officials persistently state that the Biden administration does not seek "decoupling" or "Cold War 2.0", and claim it wants to cooperate "wherever necessary and possible", some observers have seen on the ocean-floor a "subsea Cold War" against China.

Despite the low profile all concerned parties have maintained, what is happening to the Chinese presence in the global undersea cables network is a natural extension of the de facto "decoupling" Washington is choreographing concerning vital technologies.

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Since the Donald Trump administration moved to squeeze out any Chinese presence in the US telecommunications infrastructure network, the US has not only rerouted some key undersea cables to avoid China, but also worked hard to deny Chinese companies access to corresponding projects.

Reuters quoted Justin Sherman, a fellow at the Cyber Statecraft Initiative of the Atlantic Council, as saying that submarine cables are involved in every aspect of the rising geopolitical tensions between the US and China so it is no surprise that the China hawks want to get their claws in them.

Nonetheless, the fact that such alarm bells are being rung now is due to the upcoming presidential election in the US rather than any newfound concerns. More such anti-China hype and nonsense can be expected in the weeks to come.