China cuts internet cable on island – Residents flee

Taiwan residents on remote islands have begun leaving in droves after two underwater internet cables linking the communities to the outside world were cut, reports say.

Authorities in Taiwan said China was behind the severing of the cables linking the 14,000 residents on the Matsu Islands with the outside world. Matsu is one of Taiwan’s outlying islands closer to neighboring China.

For connecting to the outside world, Matsu’s 14,000 residents rely on two submarine internet cables leading to Taiwan’s main island. The National Communications Commission, citing the island’s telecom service, blamed two Chinese ships for cutting the cables. It said a Chinese fishing vessel is suspected of severing the first cable some 50 kilometres out at sea. Six days later, on Feb. 8, a Chinese cargo ship cut the second, NCC said.

Now many islanders – reliant on the internet for booking a doctor’s appointment, paying an electricity bill or receiving a package – are leaving.

As the full-scale invasion of Ukraine has shown, Russia has made taking out internet infrastructure one of the key parts of its strategy. Some experts suspect China may have cut the cables deliberately as part of its harassment of the self-ruled island it considers part of its territory, to be reunited by force if necessary. The cables had been cut a total of 27 times in the past five years. CTV