Oxford Technology & Security Nexus - Taiwan's satellite production & geopolitics

This week, Yi-Ting Chang will be speaking about Engineering the state: Taiwan’s satellite production amid geopolitical tensions

Satellite technology has proven crucial for states that find themselves at the forefront of inter-state conflict and war. However, it is as yet little understood what role such technology has played for those polities that lack recognition. Focusing on FORMOSAT-5, Taiwan’s first locally manufactured high-resolution Earth observation satellite launched in 2017, this article examines global satellite equipment regulations and domestic engineers’ efforts. Contrary to existing state-building literature which emphasizes the de facto state’s dependency on a patron state, ethnographic research at TASA reveals that engineers are actively developing technological autonomy to strategically navigate the power dynamics between Taiwan and the Western countries. This article emphasizes the often-overlooked role of engineers in shaping the geo- and astropolitics by highlighting their role in nation-building and outer space geopolitics.

About the speaker

Yi-Ting Chang is a PhD candidate at Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment. Her broad research interests lie in critical geopolitics and science and technology studies. She has been working on vertical geo-politics, focusing especially on power, body, materiality, and infrastructure in the three-dimensional world. She is a founding member of the Taiwan Space Generation (TSG) and a pivotal figure within the TSG Reporter Team. In September 2023, she co-convened “Off-Earth Geopolitics,” a workshop at the University of Oxford.

Her DPhil thesis aims to investigate Taiwan’s outer space history and politics against the backdrop of the ongoing cross-strait tension. Her PhD is fully funded by Clarendon Fund Scholarship with joint partnerships with St. John’s College and the Taiwan-Oxford Scholarship. She obtained her BA from National Taiwan Normal University (graduate with honour) and MSc from National Taiwan University (with an awarded thesis).