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Formosat-9: Taiwan’s Bold Satellites Project Escalates Defence Against Potential Chinese Attack

Amid the escalating tension surrounding Taiwan, the nation is moving forward with bolstering its defences against a potential attack from the People’s Republic of China. Taiwanese media has recently reported that the country has commenced work on the Formosat-9 project, a satellite constellation poised to conduct high-altitude surveillance over Chinese territory. This initiative, underpinned by synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology, will provide a means of closely monitoring Chinese missile and submarine activity.

Wu Jong-shinn, Director General of the Taiwan Space Agency, has indicated in a recent interview that the proposed constellation will enable surveillance of significant Chinese facilities, including the submarine base in Haian and a nuclear missile silo in Xinjiang. The overarching aim of this project is to safeguard Taiwan against potential Chinese aggression. According to the Taiwan Space Agency’s current timeline, the launch of eight Formosat-9 optical satellites is expected to take place later this year.

Simultaneously, the Taiwanese government has initiated the B5G project, aimed at advancing the country’s satellite communication capabilities. The initiative plans to launch communication satellites into low earth orbit (LEO) and establish a resilient telecommunications network. Intriguingly, the agency’s recent estimates suggest that around 120 LEO satellites would be needed to ensure uninterrupted telecommunications within Taiwan. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine serves as a potent reminder of the critical role satellite communication plays during times of conflict, a fact not lost on Taiwanese authorities as they endeavour to construct an infrastructure resilient enough to withstand a potential Chinese invasion.

In early 2023, Taiwan’s head of diplomacy, Joseph Wu, raised the alarm, asserting that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan was becoming increasingly likely, potentially by 2027. The latter date aligns with Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s anticipated extension of power, a time when he may choose to assert control over Taiwan to secure his legacy. According to Wu, the rising probability of armed conflict between China and Taiwan also stems from the sharp increase in Chinese military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan, which may spark perilous incidents.

China’s Communist government views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has not ruled out the use of force to assert control. Conversely, the majority of Taiwanese citizens reject the prospect of falling under Beijing’s rule. China’s continued threats towards Taiwan have been met with explicit statements from the Chinese military, asserting their readiness to “decisively break” any attempts by Taiwan to assert its independence. The deepening ties between Taiwan and the US have been labelled by Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Col. Tan Kefei as an “extremely bad” and “dangerous” development.

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