It seems China could seize Taiwan without force, after all. Just by blockading the island and cutting off its vulnerable Internet infrastructure. But will it really be that easy?

Communication Blackout

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently uploaded a video discussing how China could potentially target Taiwan’s fourteen submarine cables if the brewing tension turns fiery hot.

In August, Beijing conducted extensive military drills surrounding the island of Taiwan, where some of the critical Internet infrastructures were submerged. Although the superpower nation didn’t mention targeting these highly valuable cables, its increasing military activities around the area could put these connections at risk.

“If the complication was not able to function very well during the war time, that will become a disaster,” said Kenny Huang, CEO of Taiwan Network Information Center, in an interview with WSJ.

Submarine communication cables, invented in the 1840s, are rarely wider than a garden hose and contain optical fibers that carry data. It stretches for thousands of miles across the ocean floor, connecting countries across the globe. The first commercial cable was reportedly laid in 1850, with “the first trans-Pacific cables connecting the United States mainland to Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines” completed in the early 1900s, and it has come a long way since.

Today, submarine cables transmit approximately 98 percent of international internet traffic, and Taiwan’s infrastructure is critical to keeping the Asia-Pacific region online.

Taiwan Seabed Connection in Asia
(Screenshot from

“North Asia to Southeast Asia is need to go through either go through Taiwan or nearby ocean,” Huang said. Even a minor technical issue with these cables could already pose a problem for its neighboring countries. Temporarily going offline would be catastrophic, which had happened in the past due to maritime activities (Taiwan has the busiest waterway) and natural disasters (such as earthquakes and typhoons) that had severely damaged these cables.

“If there’s a conflict between Taiwan and China, there are very high possibility that the initial target could be a cable station,” Huang added. An angle that isn’t news to the US military.