Facebook withdraws building permit application for submarine cable to Hong Kong

Facebook has decided to stop its efforts to build a trans-Pacific submarine cable that should have linked California and Hong Kong, because of tensions between the United States and China.

“Due to the current concerns on the part of the US government over the direct communication links between the US and Hong Kong, we have decided to withdraw our case from the FCC.”, the federal communications agency, a spokesperson for the group told AFP. “We hope to work with the parties concerned to reconfigure the system to meet the concerns of the US government”, he added.

The social media giant and several telecommunications companies filed their first building permit application in 2018, to link two sites in California to Hong Kong and Taiwan. It had to facilitate communications thanks to optical fibers capable of transporting large volumes of data with very low latency times.

But Washington is resisting, because of the perceived potential risks to national security vis-à-vis China, which has tightened its control over the territory. Last June, the US Department of Justice recommended that a trans-Pacific submarine cable proposed by Google and Facebook bypass Hong Kong. The cable, dubbed the Pacific Light Cable Network, was originally intended to link the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines. The Hong Kong station “ would expose the United States to communications interceptions ” by Beijing, the ministry said.

The FCC gave Google permission in April 2020 to operate the section between North America and Taiwan.

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