Facebook and Google decided to leave behind the plan for an undersea cable project, the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), between the United States (US) and Hong Kong following the Trump administration’s allegations that China can use the link to collect information on Americans. Excluding Hong Kong’s Pacific Light Data Communication Co., links to Taiwan and the Philippines remained in the new filing for creating a submarine network.

The US security agencies claimed that the Hong Kong company is a subsidiary of China’s Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group Co. that has relations with Beijing’s intelligence and security services. This development further escalates the tension between the US and China over a series of conflicts, among these are the blacklisting of Chinese tech companies and banning of their products due to allegations of espionage and national security threats.

Philippines’ inclusion in the undersea cable plan was announced in April 2019 by former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr., which was supposed to be utilized for the third major telco player DITO Telecommunity. The Trump government did not authorize the direct connection from LA to HK,” Rio told the Inquirer. “But Facebook was able to get authorization to connect the Philippines to LA.”

Now, with both Facebook and Google backing out from the project, DITO Telecommunity, a company owned by presidential ally Dennis Uy and China Telecom, a state-owned company that might also be banned in the US, is facing new obstacles that might hamper its already delayed launch. Back in July, the third telco player missed completing its target number of cell towers, citing problems brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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