U.S. officials are seeking to block an undersea cable that is being backed by Google, Facebook and a Chinese partner on national security grounds.
According to a story on Wednesday by the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Department of Justice has indicated it's opposed to the project because of concerns over its Chinese investor, Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group Co., and the direct link that the cable would provide to Hong Kong, according to people involved in the discussion.
Ships have already installed most of the 8,000-mile Pacific Light Cable Network across the seafloor between the Hong Kong and Los Angeles. The Justice Department leads a multi-agency panel that reviews telecommunications matters. To date, the installation work has been conducted under a temporary permit expiring in September, according to the Wall Street Journal. People familiar with the review say it is in danger of failing to win the necessary license to conduct business because of the objections coming from the panel, known as Team Telecom.
The tension over the undersea cable could be another symptom of the ongoing trade war tension with China, as both the U.S. and China have imposed tariffs on each other.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Team Telecom has approved past cable projects, including ones directly linking the U.S. to mainland China or involving state-owned Chinese telecom operators. If the U.S. rejects Pacific Light’s application, it would be the first time it has ever denied an undersea cable license based on national security grounds, according to The Wall Street Journal.