China accuse US of 'militarising space' using Musk's satellite network

China accuse US of 'militarising space

The official newspaper of the Chinese military, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), on Friday (Apr 19) accused the United States of "militarising space" by building a spy satellite network with Elon Musk's SpaceX. This comes after a Reuters report that SpaceX was building hundreds of spy satellites for a US intelligence agency.


 About the Starshield satellite network

  • last month, citing five sources familiar with the programme said SpaceX's Starshield business unit is building a network of hundreds of spy satellites under a $1.8 billion classified contract signed in 2021 with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), an American intelligence agency which manages spy satellites
  • Days after the report was published, PLA's on the Chinese social media platform Weibo said that the reported programme exposed Washington's "shamelessness and double standards" as the US has previously accused Chinese tech companies of threatening United States security.
  • It added, "We urge U.S. companies to not help a villain do evil." The post on Chinese social media also warned all countries to be "vigilant and protect against new and even bigger security threats created by the U.S. government
  • Sources told Reuters that if successful, it would significantly advance the ability of the US government and military to spot potential targets "almost anywhere on the globe."
  • No one can hide," one of the sources speaking about the network's capabilities. As per the reported plan, SpaceX would set up a "powerful new spy system with hundreds of satellites bearing Earth-imaging capabilities that can operate as a swarm in low orbits.

 What did the PLA say?

  • PLA Daily said that the Starshield could potentially "warn and intercept missiles and control unmanned combat platforms remotely," and could play "an extremely important role on the battlefield," as quoted by the South China Morning Post
  • The official newspaper of the Chinese military in its commentary criticises the US for "militarising the transformation and development of low-orbit satellites" and said by doing so Washington has highlighted its ambition to "seize orbital resources and pursue space hegemony
  • The paper noted that such a system posed "huge challenges to information and space asset security to other countries".
  • The PLA Daily also said that in recent conflicts the US has relied on its "space military capabilities" to intervene and help other countries by providing them with information
  • This could be a reference to how Musk provided the Starlink internet service to Ukraine in the early stages of the Russian invasion, but since last year the US government has been covering the costs for it.