hsu3_An Rong Xu for The Washington Post via Getty Images_internet taiwan An Rong Xu for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Keeping Taiwan Online

The threat of an internet cutoff looms in Taiwan, as a months-long outage on Matsu earlier this year made plain. To defend itself from a possible Chinese invasion or prolonged blockade, the island must strengthen its satellite-communication capabilities, rather than seek the services of Elon Musk’s Starlink.

TAIPEI – Internet connectivity is a lifeline – albeit a fragile one – for Taiwan. A recent war game staged in Taipei with experts from the military, tech industries, academia, and government suggested that, in the event of a Chinese blockade, the island would be particularly vulnerable to a communications cutoff.

The threat to Taiwan’s digital infrastructure was made plain in February, when Chinese maritime vessels severed two submarine cables connecting the island to Matsu, a tiny archipelago that belongs to Taiwan but is located just off the coast of China. The months-long outage deprived residents of internet access and left Matsu, which houses a strategic military base, open to attacks. The damaged cables also exposed the vulnerability of the US tech giant Google, which has a data center on Taiwan’s western coast.

Currently, 15 submarine cables connect Taiwan to global telecommunications. A Chinese invasion or prolonged blockade could thus cut off the island from the world, with consequences for the global economy and financial markets. Such an outcome could also threaten the security of the United States and its regional allies, including Japan. As a result, the Taiwanese government must focus on strengthening communication capabilities and ensuring robust and reliable internet connectivity.

To continue reading, register now.

Subscribe now for unlimited access to everything PS has to offer.


As a registered user, you can enjoy more PS content every month – for free.