The war in Ukraine has stoked fears of a military conflict in Taiwan, amid growing tensions with China, which has long claimed the island, although the ruling Chinese Communist Party has never controlled the territory.
Taiwan leaders try to calm fears over Ukraine invasion, but citizens fear their island may be next
Tang did not name China, but said Taiwan needs a plan to maintain internet infrastructure in the event of “intense military aggression” or other threats, such as natural disasters or problems with submarine cables.
The government is set to review applications for satellite internet and would be open to discussions with “any qualified service provider”. Tang said Taiwan’s Ministry of Digital Affairs will spend about $18 million on securing internet backup over the next two years. The Washington Post asked SpaceX if the company intended to make an offer and did not immediately receive a response.
Non-geostationary satellites such as those used by Starlink circle the Earth in relatively low orbits and are faster than traditional geostationary satellites. The technology has become increasingly popular in areas where broadband signals are weak or non-existent.
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After Russia invaded Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, the country’s digital transformation minister, tweeted a plea to Musk for broadband assistance, as the bombings could disrupt internet access or put the offline country. The SpaceX founder, along with European allies, has sent thousands of antennas to Kyiv, many of which are now on rooftops in Ukraine.
In recent months, Beijing has increased its presence in the Taiwan Strait, threatening the island with military aircraft and surrounding it with warships during intensive exercises. In August this year, days before US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island, an apparent cyberattack took the Taiwan presidential office website offline.
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Although the attack “did not cause substantial harm, it made us more vigilant about communications and information security,” Tang said.
In an interview on Taiwanese radio station BaoDao, where Tang first announced the plans, the minister said that as long as people could “see the sky”, they would be able to access the internet via low-orbit satellites.
The move makes sense for Taiwan, some experts say.
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Taiwan is already vulnerable to cyber espionage, with its neighbors eager to “check its mail”, said John Hultquist, head of intelligence analysis at US cybersecurity firm Mandiant. The island’s geography, compared to that of Ukraine, puts it at risk of a total internet blackout, he said.
“Given the geopolitical situation and Taiwan’s history of natural disasters, they may have to consider the possibility of becoming completely isolated – if they don’t have a redundant system,” Hultquist said. “And we see this used outside of the context of war – we saw many serious attacks in Ukraine, before the actual invasion.”
This logic has gained ground in Taiwan and in parts of the region preoccupied with the conflict with China.
At the Shangri-La Dialogues, an annual security forum held in Singapore in June, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned: “The Ukraine of today may be ‘Is tomorrow’, taking up a refrain that appeared in Taiwan at the start of the war. in Ukraine.
While Taiwanese officials have pointed to the huge geopolitical differences between the situations, the push for a relief internet suggests a recognition of parallels to consider.
The backup internet plan hits a snag: Some potential investors, including perhaps Musk, might see cooperation with Taiwan as a risk to doing business in China.
“Musk’s broader set of business interests are certainly much more exposed in China than in Russia,” said Bec Shrimpton, director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “So the decision to even have discussions [with Taiwan]especially if it were to be made public, would be more complicated than it was in the case of Ukraine.
War in Ukraine: what you need to know
The last: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed decrees to annex four occupied regions of Ukraine, following referendums held that have been widely denounced as illegal. Follow our live updates here.
The answer: The Biden administration on Friday announced a new round of sanctions against Russia, in response to the annexations, targeting government officials and their family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials and defense procurement networks. President Volodymyr Zelensky also said on Friday that Ukraine was seeking an “accelerated ascent” into NATO, in apparent response to annexations.
In Russia: Putin declared a military mobilization on September 21 to call up up to 300,000 reservists in a dramatic attempt to reverse the setbacks of his war on Ukraine. The announcement led to an exodus of over 180,000 people, mostly men who were subject to service, and further protests and other acts of defiance against the war.
The fight: Ukraine launched a successful counter-offensive that forced a large Russian retreat into the northeast Kharkiv region in early September as troops fled towns and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large quantities of military equipment.
Pictures: Washington Post photographers have been in the field since the start of the war. Here are some of their most powerful works.
How you can help: Here’s how those in the United States can support the people of Ukraine as well as what people around the world have donated.
Read our full coverage of the Russia–Ukraine War. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.
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