On October 19, 2021, submarine telecommunication cables connecting China, Africa and Europe along the Digital Silk Road were laid in the port of Marseille as part of the PEACE (Pakistan East Africa Cable Express) Project.
The approximately 15,000 km long cable starts from the Chinese region of Xinjiang and passes along the Sino-Pakistani corridor to the port of Gwadar, crosses Djibouti, goes up the Suez Canal and crosses the Mediterranean reaching Marseille in France.
The port of Gwadar in Pakistan has been managed by the Chinese Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC) since 2015, guaranteeing China a direct access to the Indian Ocean without passing through the Strait of Malacca, between Malaysia and Sumatra.
The cable is owned by the Hengtong group and the main telecommunications operator is PCCW with headquarters in Hong Kong. The landing of the cable in French territorial waters was managed by the Orange company.
The PEACE cable also has branches in Africa extending to Somalia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Kenya and South Africa.
Thus Marseille has become an important hub of the Digital Silk Road in Europe. In addition to being the landing point of the Peace cable, the city already hosts numerous European data centers.
Other possible strategic hubs in the Mediterranean sea with potential not yet fully expressed are Instabul and Palermo.