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PLA should play role in space: Strategist
By Peng Kuang and Cui Xiaohuo (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-16 08:09

A military strategist has proposed the Chinese army to set up its own space forces in the future to protect China's growing extraterrestrial assets.

Space forces, often portrayed in the realms of science fiction as having fleets of spaceships equipped with lasers, are being developed by countries including the US and Russia to protect their off-world interests.

Wang Fa'an, a senior researcher on the construction of armed forces with the Academy of Military Sciences, said his call for China to develop its own space forces is not necessary for the time being, but may become pressing after the country carries out more space missions.

"Hi-tech military corps, including space forces, need to be considered in the future development plan of the Chinese Army," the expert told China Daily.

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Wang said the People's Liberation Army will not pursue a strong fleet in space, saying the world does not need another arms race.

Russian armed forces established their space contingent in August 1992, while the US air force planned to include lasers, missiles and space-based energy weapons in its Transformation Flight Plan released in 2004.

Other military powers including India are also contemplating developing space forces, say analysts.

Among the more than 900 satellites orbiting the Earth, nearly half belong to the US, while Russia and China have 91 and 54 respectively, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Massachusetts-based research body.

On Feb 10, a privately-owned US communications spacecraft collided with a defunct Russian military satellite about 800 km above northern Siberia causing wide debate about security in space.