China's military looks to outer space
Outer space is presumably emerging as a possible theater of
operations for China's armed forces, researchers said.
The analysis, published in the mass-circulation People's Daily, from a group
of unidentified researchers at the National Defense University, listed space as
an area where the People's Liberation Army must be equipped and prepared to
defend the nation's interests.
"Our military should not only protect China's national sovereignty and
territorial integrity, but should also protect the oceans and transport routes
and other economic interests as well as ... the security of space," it said.
Similar suggestions were put forward last month in the Study Times, a
newspaper published by the Central Party School.
"We should strive to develop coordinated land, sea, air and space systems,"
the paper said.
This seemed to mark a departure from previous strategic literature in China,
which has tended to give space a less prominent place in defense planning.
The most recent government white paper on defense published in late 2004 only
made scattered references to space and did not characterize it as a possible
theatre of operations for its armed forces.
China instead used the white paper to urge efforts to prevent an expensive
arms race in space. "Outer space is the common property of mankind," it stated.
"China hopes that the international community would take action as soon as
possible to conclude an international legal instrument on preventing the
weaponization of, and arms race in, outer space through negotiations."
In a white paper on its space program published in August 2004, the
government also acknowledged that national defense purposes were among the main
objectives for the development of satellites.
And just like the first American and Soviet astronauts, all China's men in
space so far have been former fighter pilots.
Reports suggest that governments across the globe do pay attention to the
defense implications of space flight, to the extent that fiscal and technical
constrains make that possible.
Earlier this year The New York Times reported the US government was
conducting research into building a ground-based laser weapon that could destroy
enemy satellites in orbit.
The secret project would use beams of concentrated light to destroy such
satellites to disrupt enemy communications.
The weapon is part of a wide-ranging effort to develop defensive and
offensive space weapons, the Times said, citing federal officials who spoke on
condition of anonymity.
The weapon would use sensors, computers and flexible mirrors to counteract