A deal was finalised earlier in the summer to build a new subsea link between Chile, Japan and Australasia. The proposed Trans-Pacific route will more than 8000 miles from Chile connecting with existing cables between Japan and Australasia. The cable will cross the Pacific Ocean from South America landing in New Zealand then in Australia, before utilising an existing link between Australia and Japan (which came into service in July).
Once built, the cable will be the first direct fibre-optic link between South America and the Asia-Pacific.
However, the cable is also significant in that it demonstrates Japan’s intention to prevent Chinese dominance in the Pacific region and forms part of the country’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy (designed to build improve Japan’s relations with its partners, including those in the Americas). The agreement also marks an alignment of strategic interests between Japan and the Americas.
Also worth noting is that the Chilean Government rejected a competing offer from Huawei, which would have seen the cable land in Shanghai. A decision that was likely not taken lightly but perhaps influenced in part by mounting pressure from the US about the use of Huawei technology.
The initial tender for the project has been won by Japan’s NEC, and the project will also be open to further supplementary contracting bids next year.