Red China is unhappy with Elon Musk. His SpaceX satellites supposedly are threatening the safety of China’s space station.
China has complained to the United Nations about two “close encounters” this year between SpaceX’s Starlink satellites and China’s space station. In addition, it is calling for a boycott of Tesla.
According to the Washington Post, Musk has long been considered a hero in China. Tesla even received official approval to operate its Shanghai factory without a Chinese partner, which is very rare in China.
But now he’s an enemy of the state.
I understand why, and it’s not primarily about the safety of a space station. China is fighting a cold (for now) war in space. Bill Gertz describes this in his book Deceiving the Sky: Inside Communist China’s Drive for Global Supremacy.
In 2007, China shot down one of its weather satellites, creating tens of thousands of high-speed metal debris that formed a deadly ring around the earth — a ring that will threaten manned and unmanned spacecraft for decades. This was the opening salvo in China’s space war against America. The goal, according to Gertz, is a capacity seriously to disrupt America’s highly wired society, which depends on satellites for communications, transportation, finance, and defense.
In 2018, the Pentagon Joint Staff Directorate warned that China has built anti-satellite missiles and other weapons and will soon be capable of damaging or destroying U.S. satellites in low orbit. The same year, then-Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats warned that, in order to offset U.S. military advantages, China is “increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of [its] future warfare doctrine.”
The future may be now, or at least soon. An attack by Red China on Taiwan, a distinct possibility in the near future, could be accompanied or preceded by an attack on our satellites. If successful, that attack would limit if not cripple or ability to respond militarily because we rely on satellites to pinpoint enemy targets.
I question whether Joe Biden would defend Taiwan in all events. But if China takes out our satellites, he will have little choice but to stand down.
The Post alludes to the issue in the most circumspect manner possible. It states “both [China and the U.S] are vying to put the first human on Mars and staking out strategic positions in space.”
But there’s no moral equivalency here. China is the aggressor in space where, as Coats said, it sees a shortcut to negating U.S. military superiority.
I hope we’re responding effectively to the threat and not relying on Elon Musk.