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 to 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.
The Huanqiu editorial says in part:
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 United States.
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.
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