Chile snubs China and Huawei, joins Japan’s trans-Pacific fiber optic cable route

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Big blow to Huawei and China; Chile will join Japan’s trans-Pacific fiber optic cable route

Huawei and China are being dealt with diplomatic blow after blow. Now the South American nation of Chile has decided to join the Japanese trans-Pacific fiber-optic network instead of China sponsored Huawei laid fiber-optic network.

The Nikkei reports that Chile was considering both Japanese and Chinese fiber-optic networks for its proposed cable network to directly connect South America and the Asia-Pacific region. However, some diplomatic maneuvering by Japan and pressure from the United States made Chile choose the Japanese network with Sydney, Auckland, Tokyo as landing points. The new trans-Pacific fiber-optic network route will not land at Shanghai as China wanted.

China was pressuring Chile which is its largest trading partner to sign up for the Huawei led consortium for laying the Chile-China fiber-optic network which would have connected Chile directly to Shanghai and Hong Kong. To force the Chileans, Huawei had even pledged to invest millions in data centers in Chile when President Sebastian Pinera visited Beijing in April last year.

Though China and Huawei were lead candidates for the undersea cable, the U.S. forced Chile to reconsider. It also made economic sense as the fiber-optic link from Sydney to Tokyo is already laid and operational. Chile would just have to connect to the Sydney landing point to connect with Tokyo, unlike the China-Chile link which would have to be laid anew.

The Sydney-Tokyo fiber-opticĀ submarine cable linking the two countries was completed earlier this month. It also helped that Chile has historic trading ties with Australia and New Zealand and Australia was the first country to openly question China about the origins of Coronavirus pandemic. Australia has already banned and blacklisted China’s Huawei Technologies from its 5G infrastructure.

The new Chile-New Zealand fiber optic submarine cable will be laid by NEC, U.S.-based Subcom, and France’s Alcatel Submarine Networks. The Japanese government will fund the project through a special purpose vehicle through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Japan ICT Fund.

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