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China's military, official media attack U.S. following Reuters revelation on SpaceX spy satellites

A security officer checks the entry as SpaceX's next-generation Starship spaceship atop its powerful Super Heavy rocket gets readied for a third launch from the company's Boca Chica launchpad on an uncrewed test mission, near Brownsville, Texas, U.S. March 13, 2024

BEIJING, March 18 (mod1s) - Chinese military and state-run media on Sunday accused the United States of jeopardizing global security, days after a Reuters story which claimed Elon Musk's SpaceX was creating hundreds of surveillance satellites for a U.S. intelligence agency. 

SpaceX's Starshield company is creating the satellite network under a secret $1.8 billion contract with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), Reuters reported on Friday, citing five persons familiar with the operation.

A social media account maintained by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) claimed the SpaceX program demonstrated the United States' "shamelessness and double standards" as Washington accuses Chinese tech firms of harming U.S. security. 

"We urge U.S. companies to not help a villain do evil," Junzhengping, an account managed by the PLA, wrote on social media site Weibo on Sunday. The account has 1.1 million followers.

"All countries worldwide should be vigilant and protect against new and even bigger security threats created by the U.S. government," the tweet read. 

Wang Yanan, head editor of Aerospace Knowledge, a publication regulated by the governing Communist Party, was reported in an interview as stating the SpaceX satellite project presented "a challenge to global security and stability". 

"The United States' high-profile intelligence reconnaissance of countries or regions it is concerned about will inevitably cause some hot issues to become more sensitive or even escalate," Wang told The Global Times, a Chinese state-controlled daily, in an interview published on Sunday. 

Musk oversees other firms including electric car producer Tesla that has a major manufacturing footprint in China. Neither Junzhengping or the Global Times mentioned Musk or Tesla. 

In response to the Reuters' article, the NRO confirmed its aim to create space-based surveillance technologies, but refused to comment on the degree of SpaceX's participation. 

SpaceX, the world's biggest satellite operator, did not reply to multiple requests for comment regarding the deal.

The projected Starshield network is different from Starlink, SpaceX's developing commercial broadband constellation that includes around 5,500 satellites in orbit to deliver near-global internet to consumers, corporations and government agencies. 

Chinese academics in the PLA have over the last two years analyzed the deployment of Starlink in the battle in Ukraine and frequently warned about the threats it presents to China. 

China has claimed it also aims to start creating its own satellite constellations. 

Space X, NRO, and the Pentagon did not immediately reply to demands for comment on China's response to the deal.


Source: https://www.reuters.com/

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