Why Taiwan Seeks Elon Musk’s Starlink or a Comparable Solution for Defense against Potential Chinese Invasion – Unveiling the Reasons Steering its Search Elsewhere

**Taiwan Seeks Alternative Internet Options Amid Tensions with China**

Taiwan is seeking alternative internet options to safeguard its communications in the event of a war with China. The country heavily relies on its undersea cables, which could be easily targeted during a conflict. To diversify its network, Taiwan has been exploring the possibility of low-orbit satellite systems. One potential solution is Elon Musk’s Starlink network, but there are challenges due to Taiwanese distrust of Musk’s business ties with China. Talks between SpaceX and Taiwanese officials broke down over disagreements regarding local ownership rules.

**Taiwan’s Vulnerability and Musk’s Financial Stakes in China**

The vulnerability of Taiwan’s internet infrastructure is a major concern, especially given Musk’s significant financial interests in China. The US government believes that China wants to invade Taiwan by 2027, although Taiwanese officials downplay the risk. In February, two subsea internet cables near Taiwan were severed by boats with Chinese flags, causing internet disruptions for over 50 days. Military historian David Silbey warns that Taiwan needs a reliable satellite communication system in order to effectively fight a war.

**Taiwan Space Agency’s Plans for Self-Made Satellites**

To address its vulnerability, the Taiwan Space Agency (TASA) plans to launch its first self-made low-Earth orbit communication satellite by 2026, with additional satellites to follow. TASA aims to establish a minimum constellation of 20 to 30 communication satellites, which will require assistance from global companies or Taiwan’s private sector. While low-Earth orbit constellations, like SpaceX’s Starlink, offer faster internet access, they require a larger number of satellites for signal reliability.

**Partnership with SpaceX**

Given its extensive satellite network, SpaceX is an ideal partner for Taiwan’s satellite communication needs. SpaceX already has thousands of satellites in orbit and is licensed to launch even more. Starlink’s effectiveness was demonstrated during the Russia-Ukraine conflict when it provided critical internet access to Ukraine after Russian state hackers disabled satellite modems. China’s military analysts have also recognized the challenge that Starlink poses to their situational awareness and defense capabilities.

**Concerns Over China’s Influence**

Taiwanese politicians and experts express concerns about China’s potential influence through Elon Musk and Starlink. They fear that if China can control Musk, they could have the ability to turn off satellite receivers in Taiwan during an emergency. The government of Taiwan is exploring military options with the US and other allies, but details are not disclosed. With the Starlink deal in limbo, officials are considering other alternatives and seeking a workaround to Taiwan’s ownership laws.

**Searching for Alternatives and Diversification**

In light of the breakdown in talks with SpaceX, Taiwan is searching for other alternatives to diversify its satellite communication options. The Ministry of Digital Affairs has launched a proof-of-concept program that allows satellite providers to operate in Taiwan on an emergency basis without local ownership requirements. The government aims to set up 700 satellite receivers with multiple providers to prevent a single point of failure. Discussions have been held with Project Kuiper and OneWeb, among others.


As tensions with China continue to rise, Taiwan is actively seeking alternative internet options to protect its communications in the event of a war. Talks between Taiwanese officials and SpaceX over a potential collaboration have broken down due to disagreements over local ownership rules. Taiwan’s vulnerability and Musk’s financial stakes in China raise concerns about potential Chinese influence. The Taiwan Space Agency plans to launch its own low-Earth orbit communication satellites and is exploring partnerships with other satellite providers. Diversification is crucial to ensure reliable and secure communication networks for the island.

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