Following recent announcements on the National Development and Reform Commission’s 2023 Central Budget Investment Plan, which includes major emphasis on Digital China’s infrastructure programs, financial analysts in China over the past three days have been making their predictions on the best investments going forward.
One of the more interesting recommendations pointed at a Digital China New Type Infrastructure (NTI) Tier-Three Sub Category: “Satellite Internet-of-Things.” The Satellite Internet-of-Things category is composed of multiple technology programs of which the best known is the dual-use low-orbit broadband satellite program.
However, this week one well-known Chinese investment firm, which may or may not have been speculating on programmatics, offered that China’s “space-air-ground integrated network” program also falls under the NTI Satellite Internet-of-Things sub-category.
On the civilian side, “space-air-ground integrated networks” has been under active development since at least 2020, with its earliest appearance in the 2016 13th Five-Year Plan as a program led by the Chinese defense electronics industry, so even then a military-civil program.
On the military side, the history of the program goes back much further. Beginning with a play on the former U.S. Air-Sea Battle concept from the 2010-2015 timeframe, the PLA Air Force borrowed the same U.S. language to name its new integrated doctrine, titled “Air Space Battle, Unifed Offense-Defense,” in the 2011 timeframe. The concept was also adopted by the PLA ground forces in exercises with the then 2nd Artillery Force (now PLA Rocket Force) to test a new Air-Ground Battle concept in the 2018 timeframe. Since that time, the two concepts have merged into a single “space-air-ground battle” concept.
In public documents discussing the technology, the two components of the program, civilian and military, are (nearly) undistinguable.
For now though, at least one Chinese investing firm is advising its clients this week that NTI’s “space-air-ground integrated networks” are a hot buy.