The international community should be on high alert for the US Armed Forces’ potential domination of outer space via SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet system, the official newspaper of the Chinese military said on Thursday. “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,” a PLA Daily commentary said. “The ambition to militarise Starlink and its barbaric expansion deserve high alert from the international community.” The military race for low Earth satellites – and why China is behind China has raised concerns about Starlink before, complaining to a UN space committee in December that its Tiangong space station had had two near-misses with Starlink satellites. Chinese military observers have also said Beijing is increasingly concerned about the United States having a head start in space, which militaries are watching closely as a future battlefield. Private firms from Canada to Germany have begun testing or are already operating low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite internet services with government support, but China – which heavily relies on state-owned enterprises for military technology – is still in the early stages of developing the technology. The PLA Daily commentary said that once completed, Starlink could allow the US military to gain situational awareness while keeping adversaries in the dark, providing seamless global and around-the-clock reconnaissance and surveillance services to its users. It also said Washington was supporting Starlink’s development, detailing funding and infrastructural support from the US military for a system supposedly developed for civilian use. “It can provide large bandwidth and high-speed military communication services with global coverage, allowing the US military to build a powerful command communication network covering uncrewed aircraft, strategic bombers, nuclear submarines and other combat platforms,” it said. SpaceX has sent more than 10,000 small Starlink satellite dishes to Ukraine to keep military bases, hospitals and homes online as signal towers and underground cables have been damaged by shelling. A Ukrainian aerial reconnaissance unit has also reportedly used Starlink to control its drones and lead artillery units towards Russian vehicles. The PLA Daily commentary also quoted an unnamed expert who said Starlink could form a second and independent internet that threatened states’ “ cyberspace sovereignty ”. The commentary was written under the name Li Xiaoli, a byline that has only appeared on one other opinion piece in the newspaper – one praising the Chinese delegation to the Tokyo Olympics. Another commentary published in January by China Military Online, the official English-language news website affiliated with the Central Military Commission, also warned that “Starlink with a civil cloak causes high alert”. “Space is a common resource shared by all humanity and exploring and using it concerns humanity’s common interests,” the China Military Online article said. It said orbital space should not be “America’s exclusive privilege” and no country should have full sway in space. LEO satellite internet allows connections to be encrypted without significant delays because the constellations providing the service orbit the Earth closer to the ground. This allows militaries to understand more about the situation on the ground and make better tactical decisions.