A Facebook Inc. consortium withdrew its bid to build a new internet conduit between California and Hong Kong after months of pressure from U.S. national-security officials, the latest sign of a deepening rift between the two governments.
The social-media giant told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in a filing it would withdraw its application to land the Hong Kong-Americas project, known by its abbreviation HKA, pending a new request for “a possibly-reconfigured submarine cable system.”
Facebook and several telecommunications-industry partners first filed for permission to build the fiber-optic cable in 2018. It would have connected two sites in California with branches to Hong Kong and Taiwan.
“Due to ongoing concerns from the U.S. government about direct communications links between the United States and Hong Kong, we have decided to withdraw our FCC application,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement. “We look forward to working with all the parties to reconfigure the system to meet the concerns of the U.S. government.”
It is the latest cross-Pacific fiber project to stall due to U.S. resistance. A separate Pacific Light Cable Network funded by Facebook and Google owner Alphabet Inc. is also on hold as its builders seek permission to activate the data links that don’t touch Chinese territory.