Taiwan’s Presidential Candidate Looks for Opportunities to Build Collaborations With US Space Industry

By Nathan Su
Nathan Su
Nathan Su
Nathan Su is a writer for The Epoch Times since 2018.
July 14, 2023Updated: July 14, 2023

Taiwan will have its next presidential election in January 2024. As the leading candidate, Taiwan’s current Vice President, Lai Ching-te, is particularly interested in making collaborations with U.S. corporations in the space industry.

Chung Chia-pin, a Taiwan’s congressional member who came to the Northern California Taiwanese community to raise support for Mr. Lai’s campaign, told The Epoch Times that he wanted to reach out to raise awareness about Taiwan’s high interest in building its own space industry. He said that Mr. Lai, if elected in 2024, would make building Taiwan’s own space program one of the top priorities in his economic policies.

Taiwan’s Advantages in Building Its Own Space Programs

Mr. Chung mentioned two major aspects of considerations that made Vice President Lai choose the space industry as his top priority for Taiwan’s future economic development: Taiwan’s geographical location and its advanced industrial capacities.

The earth’s equator spins around its axis at speeds of up to 1,670 kilometers per hour (1,038 mph). The closer a space launch site is to the equator, the closer the space vehicles’ inertia movement will be to this speed. It is the space industry’s common practice to build spaceports as near to the equator as possible. Because the earth spins in the direction from west to east, space vehicles are usually launched in the same direction. There is also a safety advantage for the launch sites to be built at locations facing the ocean in the east direction.

“That’s why U.S. spaceports are built in Florida,” Mr. Chung explained. He then pointed out that Taiwan has geographical features similar to Florida.

Taiwan is located in the tropical region between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Mr. Chung said that within the tropical region there are no other countries that can provide better logistic services to spaceports than Taiwan.

Mr. Chung made comparisons between Taiwan and other nations with a wide range of logistic conditions including transportation, technological environment, living conditions, education, and entertainment. “In the tropical region, where else but Taiwan can you find such ideal locations for spaceports?” asked Mr. Chung.

He mentioned that Taiwan enacted Space Development Act in 2021, a bill that paved the ground for building the island nation’s space industry. “So, Taiwan is ready,” Mr. Chung asserted.

Mr. Chung praised Elon Musk’s SpaceX program, and said while the SpaceX program provides massive-scale services, Taiwan can develop smaller-scale space programs that serve individual customers on the retail level. He said that while SpaceX has the capacity to send 50 satellites each launch, Taiwan can build a program that will send only 2 or 3 satellites each time for small customers.

Mr. Chung stated that Taiwan is specifically interested in the areas of building space elevators, or planet-to-space transportation systems connecting the earth with low-earth orbit. He said there will be tens of thousands of satellites in space in the future, so every year there will be hundreds of them that need to come back for maintenance.

Mr. Chung asserted that the geographical location of the island and its advanced industries have made Taiwan ready to take an important role to serve the international space market.

Taiwan’s Coming 2024 Presidential Election

Taiwan’s presidential election is held once every 4 years. The Chinese communist regime has interfered with every presidential election in Taiwan in the past either with missile threats or massive cyberattacks.

Mr. Chung said that the CCP regime has learned from its own past experience, and realized that its military threat never worked. He stated that since 2018 Beijing has given up using military threats, but choosing disinformation or using special interest groups on the island to interfere in Taiwan’s election. But he was confident that Taiwan’s democracy is mature enough to deal with any interference from the CCP regime.

The two major political parties in Taiwan are the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).  The DPP leans toward Taiwan’s independence, while the KMT toward unification with China.

The current president Tsai Ing-wen is a member of the DPP. Beijing’s leaders look at Vice President Lai as a pro-independence candidate for the upcoming 2024 presidential election.

While Mr. Lai has been long criticized by the CCP regime, his campaign has been well received by the Taiwanese society in northern California. Mr. Lai’s campaign has heavily relied on Friends of Trust Lai (FOTL), an organization that supports Mr. Lai’s candidacy. Mr. Chung’s visit to the United States was arranged by the FOTL.

Li Hanwen, chair of the advisory board for FOTL in the San Francisco Bay area, told The Epoch Times that Lai’s campaign platform is built based on four main columns: strengthening national defense, elevating economic security, building alliances with democratic nations, and leading Taiwan–China relation with principles.

She said that Mr. Lai wants to support Taiwan’s technological renovation and secure Taiwan’s position in the supply chain of newly emerging industries.

Ms. Li stated that Chung’s visit to Silicon Valley was to seek new partners that would be interested in making collaborations with Taiwan’s raising space industry.