Taiwanese satellites signal Asia’s distrust of Musk

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at a news conference on new measures to reinforce the island's civil defence amid the rising China military threat in Taipei, Taiwan, December 27, 2022. REUTERS/Ann Wang

HONG KONG, Jan 9 (Reuters Breakingviews) - The self-governed island, claimed by Beijing, is courting investors as it is preparing to roll out a government-backed satellite network. The idea is to emulate the support Elon Musk’s SpaceX unit Starlink is providing Ukraine to help in its battle with Russia. Ordinarily reliant on U.S. technology for defence, Taipei has reasonable concerns about the Tesla boss’ relationship with Beijing, given the mainland market’s importance to the company. China accounts for roughly one quarter of its revenue.

The move is part of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s plan to smarten up defence spending, which has previously focused on trophy hardware like tanks, to the frustration of Pentagon advisors. In addition to facilitating the sort of internet-enabled resistance Ukraine has given Russia, there are commercial applications, so it could be smart business. Japan, South Korea and Vietnam have similar concerns about China and about Musk, so there may be scope for a broader Asian system. That could leave Starlink, which Beijing won’t allow to be sold inside China, without much of a market in East Asia. (By Pete Sweeney)

Follow @Breakingviews on Twitter

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

Capital Calls - More concise insights on global finance:

Smaller raises aid inflation fight read more

Southwest will soar again into open U.S. skies read more

Chip woes short-circuit Samsung's best laid plans read more

Amazon: it's just like them read more

Stellantis keeps feet on ground in air taxi punt read more

Editing by Una Galani and Katrina Hamlin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which, under the Trust Principles, is committed to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias.