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Technology

Google embraces Taiwan as Asia hub with third data center

Island offers geographic and political edge as tensions rise over Hong Kong

Google has built two data centers in Asia, with two more planned in Taiwan.   © Reuters

TAIPEI -- Google is preparing to build a third data center in Taiwan, the U.S. tech giant said Thursday, citing the island's location as strategically well suited for an Asian data transfer hub.

The company acquired a roughly 200,000-sq.-meter plot in Douliu, a city in central Taiwan, and expects to start operations around 2022. Though Google divulged few details to reporters Thursday, the investment is assumed to be worth 20 billion New Taiwan dollars ($681 million).

Google selected Taiwan because of the island's "geographic advantages," Tina Lin, the company's regional general manager, told reporters Thursday. Multiple deep-sea communication cables connecting the U.S. and Asia pass through Taiwan, making the island "an increasingly key location to build data centers," Lin said.

This will be Google's fourth data center in Asia. Taiwan's Changhua County hosts the initial facility, which went online in 2013. Another data center was built in Singapore. In September 2019, Google announced a plan to build a second Taiwanese data center in the city of Tainan.

Demand for online services has mounted during the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. tech heavyweights are expanding data center operations. Google says it has over 10 data centers in North America, one in Chile and another five in Europe.

In June, the U.S. Justice Department recommended against a new undersea cable that would connect the country to Hong Kong, listing Taiwan as an alternative.

Google also said on Aug. 14 that it will no longer cooperate directly with local authorities on requests to hand over user data, the move in response to the new national security law imposed on the territory by Beijing.

Where to invest in data centers has emerged as a weighty topic in the tech sector. With frictions between the U.S. and China intensifying, Google sees Taiwan as an essential site for Asian investments from a political perspective.

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