A Russian government-affiliated telecommunications company has announced it has selected China's Huawei Technologies Co. to undertake survey and design work for laying a submarine fiber optic cable linking communities on Sakhalin and islands controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan.
The Japanese government has been wary of companies from China, South Korea and other third countries doing business on the four islands called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia. They were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.
The business deal could overshadow talks between Tokyo and Moscow toward realizing joint economic activities in the region agreed late last year at a meeting of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Rostelecom PSJC has picked the Chinese telecom technology company for the project to build a 940-kilometer undersea cable linking the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and major towns on three of the four islands -- Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan.
The Russian government has been pushing for fiber optic infrastructure on the islands as Russian residents there had to cope with slow Internet connections.
Huawei was chosen for the new project after having built another submarine fiber optic cable for Rostelecom in Russia's Far East. Huawei could play a central role in laying a cable for the disputed islands.
An official at Huawei's Russian unit said the project will help improve the livelihood of residents and narrow information gaps.
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