China warns SpaceX’s Starlink network could be militarized

China has issued a warning to the rest of the world about the possibility of the US militarizing SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet network.

Officials believe the expansive satellite constellation will let the US dominate cyberspace, a worrying prospect according to a report by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) issued on Thursday.

“The program’s unchecked expansion and the company’s ambition to use it for military purposes should put the international community on high alert,” the report said.

The report warns that Starlink can do more than simply improve communications. The satellites might be used to interact with UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and collect facial recognition data.

Militarizing Starlink was previously seen in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, when Elon Musk used his internet service to support Ukraine, according to Chinese officials.

The PLA says in their report the US government will be able to use Starlink to gain global situational awareness once SpaceX deploys the more than 40,000 satellites for the network.

“The Starlink project has decided to increase the planned 12,000 satellites to 42,000, underscoring that it is widely distributed, flexible and could be reconfigured quickly. The ambition to militarize Starlink and its barbaric expansion deserve high alert from the international community,” (via The South China Morning Post).

Despite the warnings from China’s military, SpaceX currently has no plans to start offering Starlink service in China.

As we previously reported, the main reasons for this are Starlink equipment does not meet the country’s rules around made-in-China products and the lack of a SpaceX China or other subsidiary.

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