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Digital Silk Road by China to bypass India

China is expected to lay down the final patch of cross-border fiber optic cable in Pakistan.

As part of the larger Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is expected to lay down the final patch of cross-border fiber optic cable in Pakistan to establish the Digital Silk Road, serving the key aspects of both countries, said Nikkei Asia. The Peace cable would offer the quickest direct internet path between member countries which will significantly reduce the time required to transmit internet traffic. The study claimed that the cord is presently being constructed between Rawalpindi and the coastal cities of Karachi and Gwadar. The $240-million project, which is in partnership with China’s Huawei Technologies, was funded by the government last week. The installation of sea cable in Pakistan’s shipping lanes will begin in March following the government’s authorization this month for the construction of an Arabian Sea Landing Station in Karachi by Cybernet, a regional Broadband provider. 

(Image Credits: https://www.nai-group.com/optical-fiber-technology-how-it-works/)

The Mediterranean portion of the cable is now being transferred from Egypt to France, and the 15,000 km lengthy bridge is scheduled to go into effect this year. Since its introduction, the Digital Silk Road has presented developing countries with new avenues for technological transformation. Chinese technological investments have the potential to jumpstart digital technologies in the BRI countries. In June 2020; BeiDou-2 was launched by China, i.e. Chinese developed and operated a global navigation satellite system consisting of 35 satellites. The BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is required to be used commercially worldwide as an alternative to the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the USA. In addition to basic positioning, navigation, and time services, BDS can offer high-precision and high-integrity services to customers in civil aviation, marine, rail, and other industries. 

(Image Credits: builtin.com)

Pakistan currently maintains seven undersea cables, four of which come from India, according to Telegeography, a Washington-based network services research firm. These broadcast networks have been established by consortiums that include internet providers from India, Egypt, and Pakistan. Observers see this as a political step to bypass the multinational telecommunications joint ventures controlled by Western and Indian firms. 

(Image Credits: moderndiplomacy.eu)

The Chinese authorities have described the practice of some Chinese self-branding firms as part of the DSR in overseas ventures for proper monitoring. Again, the DSR has also stepped up the strategic rivalry between China and the US, embodied in global anti-Huawei 5G initiatives and the US’s new Indo-Pacific Digital Communication and Cyber Security Partnership (DCCP). Pakistan can improve its digital potential by DSR by looking beyond fiber optics and associated networks. We need to draw Chinese interest in core fields of DSR, such as big data, nanotechnology, quantum computing, 5G, and artificial intelligence.

(Image Credits:  www.phoneworld.com.pk)

Cover: (Image Credits: A worker monitors automatic copper wire unit at a plant in Lahore, Pakistan, March 24, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE)
Reported By: Ehtisham Majeed

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