Surging tensions with China have prompted Taiwan to boost its military defenses. Now it’s heeding the lessons of the war in Ukraine to address one of its bigger weakness: the fragile undersea infrastructure that connects the island to the internet.
Taiwan has 14 subsea cables — many little wider than a garden hose — stretching thousands of miles and directly linking it to other Asian nations, the U.S. and other parts of the world. That’s a vulnerability the island’s government, seeing any interruption as potentially destabilizing, wants to minimize. A disruption in a conflict with China could result in Taiwan getting cut off from the world, similar to what happened to the Pacific Island nation of Tonga earlier this year when a volcanic eruption left it without internet access for more than a month.
"Undersea cables are a serious Achilles’ heel to Taiwan,” said Kenny Huang, chief executive officer at the Taiwan Network Information Center, a nonprofit partially owned by Taiwan’s government.