WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed U.S. Congressman Brian Mast’s (FL-21) bipartisan legislation to protect American superiority in undersea cable capabilities from China’s economic and military reach. The Undersea Cable Control Act would require the Biden Administration to develop a strategy to limit foreign adversaries like China from accessing goods and technologies capable of supporting undersea cables and establishing agreements with allies and partners to do the same.
“Whether it’s TikTok or a spy balloon, the U.S. has been caught flat-footed in countering Chinese influence. We can’t let undersea cables become another example of that trend,” Rep. Mast said. “We cannot empower the same China that wants to topple America and put communism on top to control one of the most powerful communications tools on the planet. We must protect this infrastructure and technology that Americans rely on every day.”
The Undersea Cable Control Act aims to prevent China from acquiring American-made goods and technologies that are used in developing and supporting undersea cables. This legislation invokes the Export Control Reform Act - specifically Section 1752 - to restrict the export of items that could prove detrimental to the national security and the economy of the United States. The goal of the legislation is to prevent foreign adversaries, like China, from increasing ownership and control of this key economic and telecommunication infrastructure.
The Undersea Cable Control Act was passed with a unanimous vote. The full text of the legislation can be found here.
Undersea cables are a vital part of global communication infrastructures, with 99 percent of all transoceanic digital communications transporting data like the internet through these fiber optics cables. This technology has added $649 billion to the U.S. economy in 2019 alone, and enables transactions worth more than $10 trillion every day within the American financial sector.
In the past few years, as China continues to finance its state-run companies and their infrastructure projects globally as a part of the Belt and Road Initiatives, Chinese companies like Huawei and China Telecom have built undersea cables on every continent except for Antarctica. While the United States still has fiber optic technology that’s more advanced than China does, the prolific installments of undersea cables by the Chinese companies have raised economic and security concerns globally.