21 September 2019
The return of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati to Beijing’s diplomatic fold could give a lift to the Asian giant’s space ambitions. The islands and atolls that make up Kiribati sprawl across the Equator and are just south of the Marshall Islands, an important missile testing ground for the United States. Because of its location, Kiribati was home to Beijing’s first overseas space tracking station, which played an important role in the Shenzhou manned space missions and the BeiDou navigation systems. When the island nation switched recognition to Taipei in 2003, Beijing packed up its first overseas tracking station on South Tarawa.
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