For decades, residents of the tiny island of Dongyin, roughly 30 miles off the coast of China, have lived at the edge of tensions between Taipei and Beijing. For the past month, they’ve had a taste of what could come in the event of a conflict between the two sides

On Feb. 2, Taiwanese authorities say, a Chinese fishing boat damaged an undersea communications cable linking Dongyin, part of the outlying Taiwanese archipelago of Matsu, to Taiwan’s main island. Six days later, they said another such cable between Matsu and Taiwan was severed by a Chinese cargo vessel.

The breaks cut off many Matsu residents from the internet. Online banking was disrupted and point-of-sale machines went dark, forcing some businesses to revert to rely on cash. Anxiety rippled through the tourism industry, a pillar of the local economy. 

A backup system that uses a high-powered microwave radio and is guarded by Taiwan’s military was used to establish internet connectivity via a tower roughly 100 miles away near Taipei, protecting some essential services, authorities said. 

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