US officials issue warning that undersea cables vulnerable to sabotage by Chinese fleet

US officials issue warning that undersea cables vulnerable to sabotage by Chinese fleet

Nigel Farage's Monologue on China

GB News
George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 20/05/2024

- 20:37

Officials are privately delivering an warning to telecommunications companies

Google, Meta and other firms have been warned their undersea internet cables could be at risk of tampering by China-controlled repair ships.

Underwater fibre-optic cables in the Pacific Ocean that are partially owned by the big tech firms have reportedly been the centre of talks by state department officials.

The Wall Street Journal reported on a particular firm called SB Submarine Systems, which is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

SB Submarine Systems has reportedly taken steps to hide the location of its repair ships by turning off their transponders.

SBSS ships, Xi Jinping

SBSS ships have been at the centre of the discussion


In 2019, an SBSS vessel called the Bold Maverick allegedly turned its transponder on and off several times during a four-day period while floating in the same one-mile patch of ocean off the coast of Singapore.

The WSJ has reported other incidents in which SBSS ships disappeared from tracking systems including near Taiwan and Indonesia.

SBSS is majority owned by state-controlled China Telecom. One of the firm’s top executives is a member of the Chinese Communist Party and was banned by the US in 2021 over national security concerns.

The behaviour of the SBSS-owned vessels is said to be unusual for cable repair ships, though one source familiar with the company said it was possible that poor satellite coverage was to blame.


\u200bUndersea cables (file pic)

Undersea cables (file pic)


There have been several concerns cited by US officials as potential causes for concern, including the possibility of intellectual property theft related to the undersea cable equipment, tapping into US data streams and identifying military communication links.

A spokesperson from the National Security Council told the WSJ the security of undersea cables "is rooted in the ability of trusted entities to build, maintain, and repair" them "in a transparent and safe manner."

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, pushed back on the report.

He said: "It is nothing wrong for Chinese companies to carry out normal business in accordance with the law...We firmly oppose the US to generalise the concept of national security and attack and smear Chinese companies."

GB News has approached SBSS, Meta and Google for a comment.

It comes as China condemned interference in Taiwan affairs by any means and under any pretext, after countries including the US sent dignitaries to attend Taiwan President Lai Ching-te's inauguration ceremony.

Chinese state media has urged the US and relevant countries to correct their "mistakes", to prudently and properly handle the Taiwan issue and stop sending "wrong signals" to "Taiwan independence separatist forces."

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