US, Australia and Japan to fund undersea cable in the Pacific

CANBERRA (REUTERS) – The United States, Australia and Japan said on Sunday (Dec 12) they will jointly fund the construction of an undersea cable to boost Internet access in three tiny Pacific countries, as the allies seek to counter rising Chinese influence in the region.

The three said they would develop the cable to provide faster internet to Nauru, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia.

“This will support increased economic growth, drive development opportunities, and help to improve living standards as the region recovers from the severe impacts of Covid-19,” a joint statement from the US, Japan and Australia said.

The three allies did not specify how much the project will cost.

The development of the undersea cable is the latest funding commitment from the Western allies in the telecommunications sector of the Pacific.

The US and its Indo-Pacific allies are concerned that cables laid by the People’s Republic of China could compromise regional security.

Beijing has denied any intent to use commercial fiber-optic cables, which have far greater data capacity than satellites, for spying.

Australia in 2017 spent about A$137 million (S$134 million) to develop better internet access for the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

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