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China's Internet Links Partially Restored
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Telephone operators on the Chinese mainland have partially restored telecommunications disrupted by the severing of undersea cables off the Taiwan coast.

An earthquake on Tuesday night cut several submerged cables near the southern coast off Taiwan. This shut down or slowed the Chinese mainland's access to overseas websites and international calls.

China Telecom Corp said it had "basically" restored all the international services provided to its big corporate customers by 10 PM yesterday. Nearly 15 percent of Internet-related circuits affected have been restored.

China Netcom said two boats had started repairing the damaged lines and three others were on their way to assist. The firm expects international telecommunications to be restored "within days."

A spokesman with the Ministry of Information Industry said the government and telephone operators have initiated emergency plans which helped ease the disruptions.

A spokeswoman with China Telecom said most of the international-related Internet traffic was being "re-routed" via landline cables connecting China and Europe. Satellite transmission was also being used but it lacked the capacity of fiber-optics.

In recent years China has laid several fiber-optic cables which have advantages in capacity and efficiency compared to European cables which were laid several yeas ago, the China Telecom spokeswoman said. That helped the Chinese mainland cushion the present disruptions, she explained. 

Hong Kong had been hit harder as it relies on the traditional submerged cables.

China Telecom said it had provided assistance such as restoring circuits and re-directing phone calls to operators in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

(China Daily December 29, 2006)

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