What happened: The US aims to limit Huawei’s operations in Papua New Guinea by working on a counteroffer to the company’s proposed plan to build internet infrastructure for the Oceanian nation. U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Australia James Caruso said on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio that the aim is to provide an alternative, not to say: “Don’t do business with China.”
Why it’s important: Islands nations in the Pacific are of particular strategic interest to both the US and China, as they each have votes in forums like the United Nations. In 2016, Huawei announced that it would build a network of submarine cables linking 14 towns in Papua New Guinea. But the influence of the Chinese government through the country’s tech companies has observers worried. Most recently, Eric Schmidt, former chairperson of Google’s parent company Alphabet, predicted that China would split the internet through the installation of infrastructure as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In this way, the country could control and monitor the flow of data being transferred in its cables.