Lawmaker calls for improved safety measures for Taiwan-Matsu undersea cables

DPP Legislator Hung emphasized protecting Taiwan-Matsu undersea cables. NSB Director-General Tsai highlighted critical infrastructure fortification.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hung Sun-han emphasized the necessity of protecting undersea cables between Taiwan and the Matsu Islands. At a hearing, National Security Bureau (NSB) Director-General Tsai Ming-yen highlighted the imperative to fortify critical infrastructure. Hung underscored the significance of addressing incidents of cable severance, proposing their designation as critical infrastructure due to their vulnerability to potential “grey zone” activities by China, given the proximity to the Matsu Islands.

Referring to insights from an undisclosed Washington-based think tank, the legislator speculated that certain incidents might have been premeditated. He urged the Office of Homeland Security, an Executive Yuan agency, to classify the undersea cables as critical infrastructure to enhance their protection.

Director-General Tsai acknowledged the possibility that the cable damage could be deliberate “gray zone” activities by China. He committed to conveying the legislator’s proposal to an upcoming Cabinet meeting.

Reportedly, based on data from Chunghwa Telecom in April 2023, the cables had experienced 27 cuts in the past five years, with no clear attribution to the vessels responsible.

Tsai mentioned that fishing vessels were purportedly responsible for the severances, although other sources have implicated Chinese sand dredgers and cargo ships.

Despite the peculiar nature of these incidents, Tsai emphasized the need for an analysis of Chinese fishing boats’ routes to identify any irregularities before concluding.

Before the hearing, Tsai stated in response to media inquiries that the NSB would closely monitor any signs of Chinese military exercises designed to exert pressure on President-elect Lai Ching-te’s incoming administration.

Traditionally, China conducts a series of military drills from June to November. The NSB will closely observe any endeavours aimed at intimidating Taiwan under the guise of such exercises.

Lai, the chairperson of the independence-leaning DPP, is scheduled to be inaugurated as president on May 20th.