Thursday, November 06, 2003

An article in the Christian Science Monitor explores the unenthusiastic response of the United States to the Chinese space programme, in reaction to the secrecy surrounding the launch of the taikonaut. China is playing the weak hand of one man in space very well, playing to the press and entering partnerships with other groups like the EU which wish to maintain independent space programmes.

It is too early to tell if their space programme is viable but the long-term aims of their military ambitions in space are clear:

In the aftermath of the US led wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the Chinese military has taken note of US satellite systems that coordinate attacks. Sources say it is US satellites that most concern the Chinese. As Johnson-Freese put it in a paper delivered Friday at Harvard, "The Chinese, while advocating a treaty to ban space weapons, have also made no bones about working on anti-satellite technology. Kinetic energy weapons, jammers, parasite satellites that can surreptitiously attach themselves to other satellites, and high-powered ground-based lasers [have] all been on the Chinese menu of options being pursued. The Chinese are also interested in navigation satellites, which can enhance missile targeting capabilities."

The US can brook no interference on the high frontier; this strategic advantage is a key factor in the maintenance of their superpower status.

(6th November 2003, 21.30)


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