The anticipated debris field resulting from China's 2007 anti-satellite
missile test. In the test, a weather satellite, at an
altitude of 537
miles and a mass of 1,650 pounds, was hit by a kinetic kill
China Requires Capacity
to Shoot Down American Satellites (Huanqiu, People's Republic of China)
As an emerging world power, does China need the capacity to eliminate American satellites? In recent days, the buzz from the intelligence community has been that within the next few weeks, China is likely to hold another test of its capacity destroy or disable satellites in space. According to this editorial from China's state-run Huanqiu, whether or not China holds such a test, it must develop a check on America's overwhelming outer space strike capability to prevent U.S. adventurism and ensure China's rightful development.
On Jan. 4, U.S. media reported that there is speculation within
the U.S. defense and intelligence communities that later this month, China is gearing up for a new
anti-satellite test launch. The U.S. side says that the latest
test, if successful, would put at risk U.S. strategic satellites, such as navigation satellites of the
Global Positioning System.
A Chinese anti-satellite test conducted
in early 2007 created an uproar. And while foreign news reports in January
2010 were that China has conducted another such test, this was never
confirmed. Some analysts believe that even if China conducts a new test, the
aim would be to disable rather than down the satellites involved.
The peaceful use of space is the genuine public policy of China.
China has no interest in engaging in a large scale arms race in space with the
United States, only to see the two sides shoot down one another's satellites
one day. In 2008, China and Russia issued a joint proposal for a treaty
prohibiting the deployment of weapons in space, but they were rebuffed by the
Against this background, it is essential for China to have
the capacity to confront U.S. satellites. This deterrent is essential for the
provision of strategic protection to China's satellites, and well as the
nation's overall security. One needn't have mastery over great power politics
to understand this.
We still don't know whether China will hold a new
anti-satellite test. We do know that last October, China denied U.S. media
reports that it would. However, we believe that China should continue
substantive research into striking satellites in orbit. And under the aegis of anti-missile
defense, it can do so while avoiding controversy over whether this violates the
peaceful use of space.
But no matter how much is invested in space weapons, the
gap between China and the United States is so great that it will not be closed
for a long time to come. The U.S. advantage in outer space strike capability is
too great. In order to lessen the strategic imbalance that results from this
gap, China urgently needs a convincing outer space strike capability of its own.
In the years to come, the U.S. will continue to harass and
even obstruct the development of China's space capabilities, doing all in its
power to disseminate negative opinion about China's space program. China's reaction
should be to make tactical adjustments to minimize trouble from Western public
opinion. But the bottom line is that China should not be diverted from proceeding
with its research for the sake of winning points from the West.
China's reputation is doomed to be tarnished in the West. Generally
speaking, China's image depends on its level of cooperation with Western interests.
Attempting to ingratiate ourselves with
the West is not the answer. We must pursue a normal pace of development, and maintain
our complicated relationship with the West on this basis. Western stereotypes
of China are a result of two things: ideological differences and competing national
interests. With the rise of China, ideological differences have become
relatively less influential than competing national interests. But because it
is unwilling to accept China's development, the West pretends not to notice this
change and presents China's rise as more of a clash of ideology than national
And of all national interests, security interests are the
most important. The gradual rise of broad-based Chinese power has created a
sense of crisis in Western countries, and at this stage, there is little that
can be done to eliminate it. But as long as China sincerely wants peaceful
development and practices strategic restraint, Western countries will gradually
reassess China's strategic intentions and give up their paranoia.
China must have a reliable strategic retaliatory capability.
During this great transition period, that means deterring the United States
from embarking on risky action against China. Although there is a certain
degree of political stability in the United States, we also see and hear more
than a few radical impulses simmering below the surface. As the situation after
the Cold War demonstrated, when the United States lost any fear of retaliation,
its strategic judgment was diminished.
China today is more concerned than ever with improving
people's livelihoods, and this garners greater public attention than does national
security strategy. However, consolidating China's strategic security is the
foundation of the long-term development of the people's livelihoods. So we must
come up with the necessary resources and energy and commit them to the
construction of advanced defense capabilities.