Taiwan Eyes Starlink to Boost Internet Security Amid China Threat By Liz Ng and Jenny Leonard April 8, 2023, 3:43 AM PDT
Taiwan is exploring the possibility of using Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite system to enhance its internet security and deterrence against China, according to two US lawmakers who met with President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday.
US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and Arkansas Representative French Hill, who were part of a congressional delegation visiting Taipei, said they discussed the idea with Tsai as one of the “constructive takeaways” in their talks.
Starlink, operated and launched by Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., has more than 3,000 satellites in orbit and aims to provide high-speed internet access to remote areas around the world.
Musk has previously angered Taipei by suggesting that China and Taiwan should share some control over the island, which Beijing claims as its own territory. He also said that Beijing has asked him not to offer Starlink’s service in China.
McCaul told reporters that China has superior intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in the Pacific region, while Taiwan lacks them. “Communist China is very good at what we call intelligence surveillance reconnaissance,” he said. “They have great eyes on — they can see everything in the Pacific. In some cases, better than we can in this area. Taiwan has none of that.”
Hill said that Taiwan’s undersea cables, which connect it to the rest of the world, are vulnerable to Chinese interference or sabotage. He said that Taiwan would have to make a national security exception for Starlink to operate on the island.
The US lawmakers’ visit came amid heightened tensions between Taiwan and China, which has been conducting military drills around the island since Tsai returned from visits to the US. China announced it will continue its exercises for three days from Saturday.
Taiwan’s presidential office said it had no comment on Starlink. It issued a statement saying that McCaul and his delegation met with Taiwanese leaders from various industries including semiconductors and aerospace technology.