In the vast expanse of the universe, China could be staking its claim with another broadband megaconstellation. With the backing of the Shanghai government, a mega-project named “G60 Starlink” is taking shape, which might not only reshape the internet landscape but also raise concerns about freedom, privacy, and control.
The Shanghai Municipal People’s Government unveiled a grand plan on July 25 to orbit more than 12,000 satellites. At first glance, this ambition is tech-forward and impressive, with the first phase launching 1,296 satellites. But beneath this technological marvel lies a more profound narrative.
While China’s “Guowang” national satellite internet plan was already seen as a significant move, mirroring SpaceX’s Starlink, the new G60 Starlink project intensifies the global debate. With the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at the helm, there are growing concerns about the party’s long-standing approach to information control.
Originating from Shanghai’s Songjiang District, the G60 Starlink started in 2016. Now, it is becoming a massive satellite network with a strategic location named after the G60 expressway. And with this ambitious plan, the CCP might have found another tool to monitor, control, and possibly suppress free speech and dissent.
The satellite manufacturing center, set to function by 2023, will produce 300 satellites annually. The impressive reduction in production costs by 35% signifies China’s commitment to this venture. A hint from a tweet by the Megaconstellations account suggests that the G60 Starlink might have a broader purpose, as discussed in the April documentation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Though much remains unknown, the ambitions are clear. The G60 and the Guowang projects are massive undertakings, and how they will be regulated or approved at the national level remains a question. However, the real concern is the CCP’s potential use of these projects.
Given the CCP’s track record, many worry about their intentions. The party has historically prioritized government control, often at the expense of freedom of speech. With direct access to a significant portion of the internet’s infrastructure, the potential for surveillance, information manipulation, and oppression becomes more real.
Interestingly, the U.S. tech firm Rivada is making moves in the same frequency spectrum. Their actions have been challenged by Chinese stakeholders, illustrating the complex geopolitical tussle in the realm of space and technology.
While the Guowang project’s first satellites are set to launch soon, the broader implications are far-reaching. The potential for the CCP to use these projects as tools for control and surveillance is real, considering their advanced tracking and dedicated control centers.
With this new endeavor, the world needs to understand that these satellites are not just technological marvels. They could be symbols of surveillance, monitoring, and control. As these satellites orbit above us, the concerns on the ground grow. With increasing control over a vital part of the internet’s backbone, the CCP might have a significant tool to influence and monitor global communication.
This may seem an unfair proposition to assign sinister motives to the CCP when a massive project like this will add capability to the world. But we believe the goal of the CCP is domination and control, a return to “Middle Kingdom” status. Everything they do must go in that direction – at the expense of freedoms that we hold dear in America.