US report claims China shoots down its own satellite

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-19 07:46
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BEIJING - For the second time in three years, China has shot down one of its dysfunctional satellites with a missile, US-based Foreign Policy magazine reported in its latest issue.

The destruction of the satellite, which reportedly happened in January, shows China's defensive missile ability, the magazine said.

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China's Ministry of National Defense has yet to comment on the report.

The reported firing took place at almost the same time as a successful missile interception test that China conducted on Jan 11.

The website of Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV said the anti-satellite missile test, if confirmed, is likely related to the missile interception test, which occurred at the peak of a dispute between Beijing and Washington on a massive US arms sales deal to Taiwan.

During the interception test, US agencies spotted two missiles launched from two locations from the Chinese mainland, colliding outside the atmosphere, a Pentagon spokesperson said.

China's Foreign Ministry then said the interception test was defensive in nature and was not targeting any country.

Many military scholars believe it was targeting the Patriot missile defense system that Taiwan was trying to buy from the US at that time.

China's first anti-satellite missile test was conducted successfully on Jan 11, 2007, destroying an abandoned Chinese satellite.

The Foreign Policy article did not reveal any other details of the move or any response from the US government.

Chinese military experts even warned that Washington appeared determined to surround China with US-build anti-missile systems.

However, Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based military expert, said the newly reported anti-satellite missile test was not necessarily related to the US arms deal with Taiwan.

"It was a large test which needs time to prepare for," he said.

"If confirmed, I think it was a further step for China to improve its defensive ability in space."

Peng also said that China has long advocated the principle of a nonmilitary outer space, on which the US has long kept silent.