All satellites launched by Taiwan are registered at the UN as owned by “Taiwan, Province of China,” while the government said it has requested this be changed.
The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) lists satellies launched by Taiwan from 1999 to 2019 as owned by China.
The Web site included entries on Formosat-1 and Formosat-2, which are listed as “ROCSAT 1” and “ROCSAT 2” respectively, Formosat-5, as well as the Formosat-3/COSMIC and Formosat-7/COSMIC-2 constellations.
Photo provided by the National Applied Research Laboratories
The satellites were launched in the US, either from Cape Canaveral in Florida or the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
National Space Organization (NSPO) Acting Director-General Yu Shiann-jeng (余憲政) said that Taiwan is not a UN member state and has never filed an application for satellite registration with the UNOOSA.
The office might have its own agenda for collecting the information, but Taiwan was never informed, he said, adding that a registration with other agencies is also not compulsory.
More important than satellite listings with the UN would be Taiwan’s inclusion in international frequency use negotiation, Yu said.
Taiwan negotiates frequencies for satellite communication through the Space Frequency Coordination Group (SFCG), an informal forum, he said.
Asked if China might be trying to interfere with Taiwan’s satellite development through the UN, the Ministry of Science and Technology said that the UN office just compiles data and exerts no substantial influence over the satellites.
“All of the nation’s Formosat satellites are operated by the NSPO, and no other countries can meddle with that,” the ministry said in a statement. “The government will ensure that its satellite control is safe from technical interference.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its dissatisfaction and protest over the UN’s “inappropriate and false reference” of Taiwan as part of China.
The foreign ministry has instructed its overseas offices to clarify the nation’s stance to the UN office, and make clear that Taiwan and China are not subordinate to each other, foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement on Wednesday.
Ou did not specify which overseas offices have lodged a protest.
Only when the UN office maintains its neutrality can it help countries worldwide to sustainably develop space exploration and to peacefully use orbital resources, she said.
The science ministry previously said that it budgeted NT$4 billion (US$140.53 million) for the development of a low-orbit communications satellite named Beyond 5G, which would be launched in about 2025.
However, the frequencies used by this satellite might not be available through the SFCG, Yu said.
Therefore the government would commission foreign consultancies to negotiate frequency use through the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency, Yu said.
The government has also commissioned consultancies to obtain frequencies for Formosat-2, which was initially planned as a communications satellite, but later repurposed for remote sensing, Yu said.
Former NSPO director-general Chang Guey-Shin (張桂祥) in 2011 received a delegation including UNOOSA officials, but the meeting was about disaster management, not satellite registration, Chang said.
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