Pentagon Worries About China Space Test

By | May 24, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) – China's recent success at destroying a satellite in low-Earth orbit threatens the interests of all space-faring nations and posed dangers to human space flight, the Pentagon said Friday.

In its annual report on Chinese military developments, the Pentagon also said the People's Liberation Army is building a greater capacity to launch preemptive strikes. It cited as examples China's acquisition of long-endurance submarines, unmanned combat aircraft and additional precision-guided air-to-ground missiles.

Chinese military training that focuses on no-notice, long-range air strikes "could also indicate planning for preemptive military options in advance of regional crises," the report said.

The Pentagon highlighted its concern about Beijing's anti-satellite test in which a missile was used to destroy one of China's old weather satellites in low-Earth polar orbit; the January test was China's first.

"The test put at risk the assets of all space-faring nations and posed dangers to human space flight due to the creation of an unprecedented amount of debris," the report said, adding that this is an important expansion of China's pursuit of weaponry and strategies that are designed to deny U.S. forces access to areas in Asia.

The report was presented to Congress on Friday.

In previewing its release, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters on Thursday that some of China's new capabilities are of concern to the United States but he did not provide details.

"We wish that there were greater transparency, that they would talk more about what their intentions are, what their strategies are," Gates said. "It would be nice to hear firsthand from the Chinese how they view some of these things."