TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Elon Musk is reportedly stymying efforts by Taiwan to build a backup internet system in the event of an attack by China.
In the wake of the severing of two Taiwan-Matsu submarine cables in February, efforts by Taiwan's government to set up a backup network in the event of a Chinese attack have become more urgent. In September last year, Taiwan announced plans to set up a satellite network similar to the use of Starlink in Ukraine — as a backup in the event China tries to take the country offline.
Bloomberg reported that although talks began as early as 2019 with SpaceX on implementing its Starlink network in Taiwan, in 2022 the tone of the negotiations suddenly changed. As is the case with Tesla in China, Musk reportedly wants Taiwan to change its laws to allow SpaceX to have 100% ownership of the Starlink operations in Taiwan.
Taiwan's regulations require telecommunications joint ventures with foreign companies to provide local firms with a 51% majority ownership of the venture. The news agency cited sources as saying that Musk insisted the law be changed to give his company full ownership because "that's how he does business around the world."
Musk reportedly demanded that Taiwan change the regulation or "get no deal at all." National Science and Technology Council Chair Wu Tsung-tsong (吳政忠) told the news service that there are no plans to change the rules but that SpaceX's business would still be welcomed and a "mutual compromise" could be reached.
Discussions between the two sides have reportedly come to a halt since September.
Meanwhile, Taiwan is coordinating with other companies to install non-geostationary orbit equipment at 700 domestic locations and three international locations to conduct testing. Taiwan is working with U.K. internet satellite company OneWeb to provide coverage to the country, with north Taiwan already serviced and the rest of the country estimated to be covered by 2023, reported CNA.