China builds Digital Silk Road in Pakistan to Africa and Europe

China builds Digital Silk Road in Pakistan to Africa and Europe

PEACE cable will reduce Pakistani internet traffic going through India

KARACHI — China is set to lay the final stretch of a cross-border fiber optic cable in Pakistan that will create the Digital Silk Road, serving the geostrategic interests of both countries. It will connect to a submarine cable in the Arabian Sea to service countries participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Europe.

Observers see this as a strategic move to circumvent international telecommunication consortiums dominated by Western and Indian companies.

Some BRI projects have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic and debt crises in partner countries, including a $6.8 billion railway project in Pakistan. Part of Beijing’s response has been to step up digital projects and development of communications infrastructure.

The Hengtong Group, one of China’s leading fiber optic and power cable makers, is heading a consortium of telecom companies from Africa, Pakistan and Hong Kong to install the Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) cable in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean.