Authorities in the US have given the green light to Google to switch on a high-speed internet link to Taiwan, but the submarine cable cannot extend to Hong Kong because of national security risks, the US Department of Justice said in a ruling last week.

“There is a significant risk that the grant of a direct cable connection between the United States and Hong Kong would seriously jeopardise the national security and law enforcement interests of the United States,” the department told the Federal Communications Commission, adding that the decision was supported by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defence.

Photo: May James/HKFP.

The ruling came amid tensions between the US and China during the coronavirus pandemic. The decision had “underscored fraying ties between Washington and Beijing,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

The multi-million dollar cable – with branches in Taiwan and Hong Kong – has been built already, but it has not activated. The US advised Google to concentrate on links to Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines instead.

Last August, the WSJ reported that the Justice Department signalled staunch opposition to a Los Angeles-Hong Kong cable project backed by Google, Facebook and a Chinese partner, citing similar national-security concerns.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.