Nine years after the opening of the "mini three links" between Taiwan's offshore isle of Kinmen and mainland China's Xiamen, domestic Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd. and the mainland's China Telecom Corp. Ltd. are looking to start building the first undersea telecommunications cable linking the two sides as early as next year.
Chunghwa Telecom Chairman Lu Shyue-ching revealed June 3 that the firm has already applied for a construction permit with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Should the firm be given the green light, construction could begin next year on the 50 to 60 kilometer long cable, allowing people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to enjoy faster Internet and telecom access.
Lu remarked that, as Taiwan currently connects first to international undersea cables for links with the mainland, a stable, dedicated and fast direct cable would increase efficiency and lower costs. The savings seen, he said, could be then passed on to consumers.
The Kinmen County Government sees the plan as beneficial to both Taiwan and the mainland. County Magistrate Li Zhu-feng-who first proposed the plan 10 years ago as a member of the Legislative Yuan-said: "The central government finally gets it!" He also remarked that he had further proposed that the government build a bridge linking Kinmen with Xiamen and connecting water, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure on the two sides. Given uncertainty in the cross-strait relationship at the time, the Democratic Progressive Party administration then in power did not follow up on the proposal.
Following last year's election of the Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou as president, Li again presented his ideas. This time, the government began to seriously consider them. With the help of the Kinmen County Government's Transportation and Tourism Bureau, correspondence was begun with the mainland's Taiwan affairs offices in Xiamen and Fuzhou, which led to later cross-strait talks on building a Kinmen-Xiamen undersea cable led by high-ranking Chunghwa Telecom officials including Lu Shyue-ching, then the firm's general manager.
Most Kinmen residents feel that, as Kinmen and the mainland are separated by only a narrow channel of water-Kinmen's Mashan being only 2,100 meters from Jiaoyu on the mainland, the building of an undersea cable would save a great deal of money.
China Telecom's chief engineer Leng Rongquan said that the completion of a cross-strait cable would increase data transfer efficiency and speed, and would also greatly reduce costs. It would, therefore, be beneficial to the development of telecommunications on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
China Telecom currently estimates that the cable's cost will run to about 100 million yuan, or about NT$500 million (US$15.3 million). The firm is already in talks with Chunghwa Telecom and is only waiting for the approval of Taiwan's relevant agencies to begin work.
© 2009 - China Times