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Geopolitics

How The Coming Taiwan Election Is Being Read (And Misread) On Mainland China

Essay: A Beijing-based Taiwanese writer picks apart the twisted attempts by mainlanders to make sense out of Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election.

Ma Ying-jeou, the current president of Taiwan
Ma Ying-jeou, the current president of Taiwan
Gong Ling

BEIJING - I am always attentive when Chinese start talking about Taiwan's upcoming presidential election. But yet again, I get the impression that the Chinese, in both high and not-so-high places, don't really understand what is happening on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.

Having learned from past experience, the Chinese government is playing it low key this time around. But in its own careful way, China is quietly hoping that Ma Ying-Jeou, the current Taiwanese president who is the Kuomintang (‘KMT" Nationalist Party) candidate, will be re-elected. This is based on the orthodox "Greater China" tradition that aims at strengthening ties among the Chinese-speaking territories. Almost all the Chinese conversations I hear, whether from the streets or on the Internet, are based on this same logic.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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