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Swedish space agency halts new business helping China operate satellites

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden’s state-owned space agency, the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC), which is contracted to help operate Chinese satellites from its ground stations, has decided not to renew those contracts or seek new business with China, it said on Monday.

“The geopolitical situation has changed since these contracts were signed in the early 2000s. We have to assess where we can do business and it’s harder for us to make that assessment regarding the Chinese market now,” Anni Bolenius, head of communications at SSC, told Reuters.

The contracts cover weather and earth-monitoring satellites. SSC did not disclose any further details about the contracts or say how many Chinese satellites it helps operate. Bolenius said such contracts typically last around 10 years.

Earlier on Monday, SSC said it would not renew a contract that gave China access to one of its ground stations in Australia.

Last year, the Swedish Defence Research Agency said in a report that China could make military use of its access to antennas at Sweden’s Esrange ground station in the far north. China has denied that any satellites that are part of the contracts with Sweden are used military purposes.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Jonathan Barrett; Editing by Peter Graff

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