Surviving Critical Times Hard To Deal With

Friday, January 19, 2007

China Checkmates US In Space War Technology

China Signals Its Determination That No Nation Will Be Allowed Dominate Space. A new race to weaponize and dominate space heats up.

Wake up and smell the cordite – now China gives Bush another problem

Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor

Washington has been sent a blunt new year’s message from Beijing that America no longer has a monopoly on weapons in space, and must choose between negotiating a treaty with the rising Asian power and facing the prospect of a dangerous arms race against a new rival. For decades America has been dominant in every aspect of space technology, particularly in what President Reagan liked to call “Star Wars”, the development of weapons systems capable of destroying satellites and even intercepting and knocking out ballistic missiles before they reach their targets. The development of such weapons has been one of the most controversial aspects of President Bush’s military build-up, which envisages one day being able to protect America and its allies from the growing threat of missile attack from rogue nuclear states such as North Korea and possibly Iran. Last year the Bush Administration made clear with the publication of its National Space Policy that it reserved the right to continue developing this technology in the face of opposition, particularly from the Chinese. On January 11 the Chinese destroyed an object at roughly the same distance in space that many US spy satellites orbit. So far Beijing has not said what it hopes to achieve from its dramatic missile test in space. However, experts believe that it will now press home its demands that America sit down at the negotiating table and agree to limit the use of weapons in space and future tests. If not, the Chinese clearly have the resources to develop the technology, and it is likely that Russia and even Europe could feel compelled to join the race. The tests could have a very damaging impact on commercial satellites, since the destruction of just one orbiter can scatter damaging debris in space for decades. As President Bush ponders his next move in Iraq, the Gulf and the Middle East, the Chinese have presented him with an unexpected and unwelcome new problem.

Also From Time


"The brazenness of this is a bit frightening," says Mike Green, former senior Bush Administration Asia adviser. "It shows that the Peoples Liberation Army has considerable leeway — a great deal of influence if not autonomy — to increase their capacity even at considerable diplomatic cost."

"The reason for all the fuss is simple: the test potentially marks a major step forward in China's ability to nullify the huge technological advantage of the U.S. in any clash over Taiwan. While Western intelligence agencies have long been aware that the People's Liberation Army was attempting to develop an anti-satellite system, the successful targeting of a single satellite in high orbit marks a significant milestone. When the Pentagon issued its annual report to Congress on China's Military Power last summer it stated that "China can currently destroy or disable satellites only by launching a ballistic missile or space-launch vehicle armed with a nuclear weapon." All that has now changed. "

"Beijing has demonstrated a capability, however limited, of punching out Washington's technological eyes. Indeed, it was reported last September that China had "painted" a U.S. satellite using a ground-based laser. The Dr. Strangelovian angle on what the Pentagon calls ASAT — anti-satellite — weapons is that a foe could use them to blind key U.S. spy satellites as the first punch in a massive war. "

"China is taking aimed at leveling out the playing field in case of a clash with the U.S. Other examples include the training of units designed to hack into military computers, and the development of massive shore-to-ship missile batteries that would make it very difficult for U.S. carrier groups to approach China's coast. The U.S. dependence on its technological edge is considerable: Green explains that in recent joint exercises held with the Indian Air Force, less technologically advanced Russian Sukhoi jets defeated American F-15s when the latter were deprived of support from satellite and AWACs systems. ",8599,1580595,00.html

While this Time article points toward Taiwan, could it be that China is rattling it's saber over its interests in the Middle East and Africa as well?


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