TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese fishing vessels were linked to two incidents where undersea cables linking Taiwan and its outlying Matsu Islands were severed earlier this month, a preliminary investigation has found.
One of the cables cut on Feb. 2 was due to a Chinese fishing boat and the other damaged on Feb. 8 was linked to a cargo ship of Chinese origin, said Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗), the deputy head of Taiwan’s National Communications Commission, on Friday (Feb. 17).
The findings were reported by Chunghwa Telecom, a major telecommunications firm in Taiwan that operates the country’s subsea cables, using an automatic identification system. It has filed the incidents with the Coast Guard Administration, per CNA.
This is the second time two Taiwanese undersea cables were down at the same time, following one event last year. Repair vessels are expected to arrive on April 20 at the earliest, with the cost estimated at NT$10 million (US$329,000) to NT$20 million.
Chunghwa Telecom has downplayed the impact on internet connectivity as a backup microwave transmission system is in place. On Thursday (Feb. 16) it said it could not comment on whether foul play was involved in the latest episode.
Broken cables have been reported more than 20 times between Taiwan and Matsu in the past five years, according to Chunghwa Telecom. As internet resilience becomes a topic of national security, the company said two more cables are being built linking Taiwan and its outlying islands, scheduled to be completed by 2024 and 2025.