Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the air force to adopt an integrated air and space defence capability, in what state media on Tuesday called a response to the increasing military use of space by the United States and others.
While Beijing insists its space program is for peaceful purposes, a Pentagon report last year highlighted China's increasing space capabilities and said Beijing was pursuing a variety of activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.
Fears of a space arms race with the United States and other powers mounted after China blew up one of its own weather satellites with a ground-based missile in January 2007.
A detailed analysis of satellite imagery published in March provided additional evidence that a Chinese rocket launch in May 2013, billed as a research mission, was actually a test of a new anti-satellite weapon.
Visiting air force headquarters in Beijing, Xi, who is also head of the military, told officers "to speed up air and space integration and sharpen their offensive and defensive capabilities", Xinhua news agency said late on Monday.