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Defence & Aerospace

US-China arms race has begun with space weapons


Spacecrafts launching facility in China (photo credit: Imaginechina/Corbis, from ‘SpaceWatch.Global’)

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) released a 125-page report on Jan 15, 2019 which suggested that “China’s military rise is well-planned, and Chinese leaders are following a strategy they believe will lead to greater power and influence both regionally and globally …”

While the report in pdf is unavailable online for unknown reasons at this moment, the SpaceWatch offers some details: “…

The DIA’s China Military Power report provides a U.S. perspective on the current and evolving state of China’s military and its ability to wage war …

Space operations feature prominently in this regard, and is regarded by Chinese military thinkers as a critically important aspect of future warfare …

‘Space operations probably will form an integral component of other PLA campaigns and serve a key role in enabling actions to counter third-party intervention during military conflicts,’ it adds …”

“ …The China Military Power report emphasizes the PLA’s growing reliance on a range of satellite applications for its operations, to include Earth observation, communications, and positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) satellites, much like the military of its U.S. rival. China Military Power also highlights, however, Beijing’s continuing efforts in developing counterspace capabilities and anti-satellite weapons …”

A Feb 12 article from Japan Times also reported that “China is developing sophisticated space capabilities such as ‘satellite inspection and repairs’ and debris cleanup — at least some of which could also function’ as weapons against U.S. satellites, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency …”

China’s conventional weaponry obviously lags behind the American, no doubt about it. Therefore, it makes sense to Beijing to delve into space technology where the American leading advantages are not yet so unreachable or incomparable.

Furthermore, suppose the satellites of both sides were shot down and the cross-ocean internet cables were disabled, resulting in reliance back to on conventional communication capacities, China’s unmatchable edge — man power by head count — could continue to work as before. In other words, the space weapon matching game would put all non-US countries in general and China in particular in a position not to suffer too much during a real combat in case the United States is a direct rival.

Unless something could be invented to protect satellites to the extent that the guarantee would be absolute, both China and Russia would dare to challenge the U.S. to intervene into their domestic affairs. Russia’s retake of Crimea and the recent seizure of three Ukrainian ships in Black Sea have served as role models for Beijing to learn when dealing with Taipei.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.

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About keith K C Hui

Keith K C Hui is a Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate major in Government and Public Administration and the author of "Helmsman Ruler: China's Pragmatic Version of Plato's Ideal Political Succession System In The Republic" (2013).

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