WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-21) today advanced bipartisan legislation to limit China’s economic and military reach and protect American superiority in undersea cable capabilities. 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.
“Look what they’ve done with balloons. Look what they’ve done with social media. Why on earth would we want China to control one of the most powerful communications tools on the planet?” Rep. Mast said. “This is the exact same Chinese Communist Party that wants to topple America and put communism on top. We must protect this infrastructure and technology that Americans rely on every day.”
The Undersea Cable Control Act aims to prevent China from accessing goods and technologies capable of 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 by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The bill now awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives.
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.