US vs China: The High Stakes Battle for Undersea Cable Control

A Shift in Diplomatic Strategy Amid Growing AI Influence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) growth is fostering a shift in diplomatic strategy. This new approach extends beyond the customary rules of managing cyber conflict, focusing significantly on American efforts to maintain control over physical technologies, such as undersea cables. These cables are crucial, as they connect countries, companies, and individual users to cloud services.

Chinese Telecom Giant Huawei’s Global Reach

Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, is making strides to dominate the laying of undersea cables across the Pacific and worldwide. However, according to Mr. Fick, American, Japanese, and European firms continue to rule the market. He asserts that this remains a robust area of competition.

Western vs. Chinese Tech Stack

Mr. Blinken’s vision of diplomacy involves convincing nations not to rely on undersea cables, data storage, or cloud computing supplies from Chinese suppliers or other states within China’s technological sphere. He paints a picture of an increasingly zero-sum game, where countries will be compelled to choose between a Western or a Chinese-dominated technology stack.

Mr. Blinken, in his address, stated, “In these arenas, the United States currently leads the world, but providers from authoritarian states are increasingly competitive. It’s critical we work with trusted vendors and exclude untrustworthy ones from the ecosystem.”

By inference, it was clear that Mr. Blinken was referring to China’s firms as untrustworthy.

US-backed Effort to Counter Chinese Influence

Mr. Blinken also referenced a U.S.-backed effort, in collaboration with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Taiwan, to connect 100,000 people living in the Pacific islands. These islands, although sparsely populated, are strategically important and have been the target of China’s expansion efforts in the South Pacific.

Looking Ahead

As the global AI landscape continues to evolve, it is apparent that the dynamics of diplomatic strategy are shifting in tandem. The influence of powerful players such as Huawei and strategic efforts like the U.S.-backed Pacific island initiative underscore the importance of maintaining control over physical technologies. In this era of rapid technological advancement, nations must choose their alliances carefully, understanding that their choices could significantly impact their place in the global tech ecosystem.