The test of an antisatellite weapon, which the government refused to either confirm or deny today, despite widespread press coverage and diplomatic inquiries, was perceived by regional experts as China’s most provocative military action since it test-fired missiles off the coast of Taiwan more than a decade ago. Unlike the
Taiwanexercise, the main intended audience this time was the , the sole superpower in space. United States
Through energetic diplomacy, generous foreign aid and a number of lengthy policy-study white papers, Chinese officials have taken pains in recent yeas to present their country in a very different light: as a new kind of global power that, unlike the
, has only good will toward other nations. United States
But some analysts said the antisatellite test showed that the reality is murkier than that.
has surging national wealth, legitimate defense concerns, and an opaque military bureaucracy that may belie its promise of a “peaceful rise.” China
Rections from around the world:
[Australian Foreign Minister Alexander] Downer expressed several concerns about the Chinese test.
"First of all, the destroyed satellite's causing damage to other satellites," Downer told reporters outside
's U.N. Mission after his first meeting with the new U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Australia
"Secondly, it's well known that satellites have important military applications, as it raises questions about this whole issue of the militarization of outer space. ... The Chinese have always opposed the militarization of outer space, so that's why we look forward hearing what they say about the issue."
Dana Perino, deputy White House press secretary, said Friday that Chinese officials have not yet responded to concerns expressed by the
"We do want cooperation on a civil space strategy, so until we hear back from them or have more information, I don't have any more to add," she said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said
Tokyohas asked for an explanation and stressed the importance of the peaceful use of space. Beijing
"We must use space for peace," he told reporters. "We are asking the Chinese government about the test."
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso criticized
Beijingfor failing to give advance notice to . He also suggested that Tokyo doubted the test was conducted for "a peaceful use." Tokyo
Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Japan's top government spokesman, suggested that 's lack of transparency over its military development could trigger suspicions about its motives in the region. China
, Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman voiced concerns that the debris from the test could strike other satellites orbiting the earth. Britain
"We have concerns about the impact of debris in space and have expressed that concern," Blair's official spokesman said, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy. He added "the manner in which this test was conducted is inconsistent with the spirit of
's statement to the U.N. and other bodies on the military use of space." China
The Pentagon recently warned in a report to Congress that
's military "is in the process of long-term transformation from a mass army designed for protracted wars of attrition on its territory to a more modern force capable of fighting short-duration, high-intensity conflicts against high-tech adversaries". China
The report also noted that "
's military expansion is already such as to alter regional military balances. Long-term trends in China 's strategic nuclear forces modernisation, land and sea-based access denial capabilities, and emerging precision-strike weapons have the potential to pose credible threats to modern militaries operating in the region". China
But on the issue of space weapons, the
certainly risks the charge of hypocrisy. US
has also been carrying out research on lasers that could knock out enemy satellites and the Bush administration has repeatedly ruled out the idea of a global treaty banning putting weapons in space. US
Only last August, President Bush laid out a new US national space policy which said
would "preserve its rights, capabilities and freedom of action in space" and "dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so". Washington
It also threatened to "deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests".
To some extent the announcement of that policy was clearly a response to a perceived threat from
Chinaas well as an attempt to preserve the current advantage in space. US
It may be that last week's test is an attempt by
Chinato push back at the USand put pressure on to consider negotiating a treaty to ban weapons in space. Washington