China complains to U.N. of "close encounters" with SpaceX satellites

© Kyodo News

China has complained to the United Nations that satellites from SpaceX, a U.S. space firm founded by Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk, had "close encounters" with its space station, urging Washington to respect the international order of outer space.

Tesla, a U.S. electric vehicle maker, has been trying to boost its business in China with a population of 1.4 billion. Following the Chinese claim, Musk and his companies have come under a barrage of criticism on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo.

"Outer space is not an extra-legal land," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Wednesday, adding all nations should be responsible for maintaining "the life safety of astronauts in orbit" and "the stable operation of space facilities."

China has said the Starlink satellites, launched by SpaceX, known formally as U.S. Space Exploration Technologies Corp., had come too close to China's space station in July and October, forcing it to take collision avoidance maneuvers. Chinese astronauts were there on both occasions.

China reported the incidents to the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in a document submitted earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Zhao called on the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden to take prompt measures to keep such incidents from happening again.