China's Missile Shield Plans
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China's Missile Shield Plans

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China is developing a multi-dimensional programme aimed at improving its ability to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by adversaries during a crisis, the Pentagon says in its latest report on the country’s military. Is this another step toward a ‘Star Wars’ missile defence shield?

Certainly according to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo, it is. ‘China is developing a missile defence system in the highest layer of the atmosphere and outer space using high-end technologies like laser beams and kinetic energy intercept,’ the paper notes as it dissects the report, which has just been presented to the US Congress.
 
Entitled ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2011’, the report assesses China’s military progress over the past 12 months, including potential space-based applications. It notes that China conducted a national record 15 space launches last year, and also ‘expanded its space-based intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, navigation, meteorological, and communications satellite constellations.’
 

‘China launched nine new remote sensing satellites in 2010, which can perform both civil and military applications. In 2010, Beijing also launched two communications satellites (one military and one civil), a meteorological satellite, two experimental small satellites, and its second lunar mission during the year,’ the report adds.
 
China’s advances are giving it the capacity to jam common satellite communications bands and GPS receivers. Meanwhile, ‘China is improving its ability to track and identify satellites – a prerequisite for effective, precise counter-space operations,’ the report says.
 
The problem for US and other analysts is that as with much else about China’s military advances, it’s difficult to establish with certainty what China’s intentions really are.
 
According to Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College, there are several reasons for this, the most important being that a very high percentage of space technology – probably about 90 percent she estimates – is dual-use, meaning of value to both the civil and military communities. ‘And in the military realm it’s difficult or impossible to distinguish offensive from defensive intent,’ she says.  
 
‘Missile defense is a good example. While the United States considers its extensive missile defence system as defensive, many countries – including China – see it as giving the US a potentially significant offensive capability,’ she says. ‘Also, China is far more opaque about its intentions than the US would like – not atypical for either rising powers or Asian cultures.’
 
An indirect result of Chinese secrecy was international condemnation of its decision in 2007 to conduct the ‘killing’ of a satellite. On January 11 of that year, China used a missile to destroy an aging Fengyun series weather satellite. The test was a success, but prompted an international outcry and concerns that it was further evidence that China had taken another step toward the militarization of space.
 
But Johnson-Freese says China noted that the United States, which used its own missile defence technology in 2008 in Operation Burnt Frost to destroy a malfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite, didn’t come in for such criticism. ‘So in 2010, the Chinese again tested technology with the potential for use as an ASAT, but this time called it a missile defence test and didn’t receive the same kind of international rebuke,’ she says. ‘Did they learn anything subsequent to their 2007 test? Yes, they learned how to avoid criticism by taking advantage of the dual-use nature of space technology.’
 
So, should the US military and its allies be concerned by China’s advances? ‘Other countries, and not just China, worried very much about US “intentions” in space during the years of US rhetoric about “space dominance” during the Bush Administration,’ she says. ‘That rhetoric has largely changed now, but the technology remains critical to the US military, and the United States has more of that technology than any other country. That gives us an advantage in the operations, but also makes it imperative that the US maintains that edge.’
 
Regardless of China’s advances, Navy War College professor and frequent The Diplomat contributor Andrew Erickson argues in an interview with Flashpoints blogger David Axe that it’s not in China’s interests to even try to compete with the United States.
 
‘Space is expensive to enter, hard to sustain assets in, contains no defensive ground, and – barring energy-intensive maneuvering  – forces assets into predictable orbits,’ Erickson notes. ‘Some of the most debilitating asymmetric tactics could be employed against space and cyberspace targets.’
 
According to Axe, this essentially means that spacecraft are highly vulnerable to physical and electronic attack, and so are their control stations. To avoid these ‘asymmetric’ assaults at which China has proved particularly skilled, Axe quotes Erickson as saying that the Pentagon should take its current space-based equipment and move it downward to the atmosphere as the air is more secure than space.
 
As Axe notes, though, Erickson’s is a relatively lonely voice in urging the Pentagon to embrace what would be an orbital retreat.
Comments
38
China Wong
April 8, 2012 at 20:39

The Chinese aint itching for a fight but to make sure the US knows it aint going to be a cheap victory with minimum casualties and cost and US territory unscathed.Those days are soon going to be consigned to the dustbin of ancient history.
The US cannot expect 100% security and China 10% or even 0% security.If the roles were reversed,what would the Pentagon do?Exactly the same as the PLA.The US is like the lion and China the hyena.The lion can kill the hyena but the later will fight with 60 % fatal bites.
As time goes on the costs to US of victory over China will increase.But you never know.We all know it’s stupid to send carriers to within PLA missile striking range.The president will say they are defending the US ie attack China.
Fortunately this is 2012 China not Ching or even Mao China.The carriers are destroyed raining destruction on china.
The US unleashed the full spectrum of US conventional and nuclear forces on China
China is devastated but wait a minute.After suffering nuclear attack ,thePLA launched its own nw.30% of the US has become wasteland.It will be more wasteland
when the PLA increases its nm.
ThePLA missile aint a threat unless the US attacks.Btw 80% of raptors sent to attack China will be shot down
The PLA sam network will be a hundred times more formidable than NV and furthermore PLA missile will home in on bases used to launch such attacks.

Of course this is just a hypothetical case but you never know. The US may unleash a war before China becomes stronger.

tosky
March 5, 2012 at 00:26

always be careful with the US! nomatter how advanced chinese think they are, be careful!

elberto
November 29, 2011 at 20:52

funnily enough the same thing was said when America had a small conflict with Iraq and Afghanistan…… <>

So how did those conflicts run???

whenever anyone (anyone..) comes up against american weapons they seem to lose… and lose VERY quickly…

I China can’t even take out Taiwan…

I would somehow believe the US is more reasonable global citizen than the Chinese…. (just ask any Tibetan… oh no that is right – you can’t – most are dead and no media is allowed there…. or the UN – just ask any croation.. or any other people the UN has allowed to die under their care….)..

ALbert. B. Australia
November 29, 2011 at 20:46

@ the_observer….. live and let live huh…

you are joking aren’t you…

china’s policy?!…

just ask any Tibetan’s if China has a live and let live policy….

how easily people forget ….. so what is the reason you beleive or spout this lie?

Chinaman
September 26, 2011 at 08:11

So China is a threat when it builds up its military to defend China from,you guess it,the US.How many nm has China? At most less than 50 of which maybe six to ten can hit the US in self defence. The US wants a China like the opium era or Mao’s time up to the 1996 Taiwan crisis.Then The US could have attacked China with mimimum cost. You never know. In 1996,if the PLA were naive to attack the 7th fleet ,it would be the excuse for Bush and his neo cons to disarm China.
Now it’s a different story. Of course the US will still prevail in any war with China but the price for victory has gone up and will go up significantly in the years to come.
As for space,it belongs to all mankind or if you like lady kind.The thing is the US wants to use space exclusively for its war waging capability.Now if the Chinese can send a guy into space, they can develop space capabilities to defend China. China aint going to attack the US.It’s the other way round. If you have a
99.999% wlill indicate China can only defend itself from attack.
Btw,don’t give the bs the US is a protector of free navigation ,human rights ,fair play,etcWhat will happen if the Chinese station an anti missile shield in South America to defend itself from missiles launched from Brazil?
The Chinese aint daft that the US anti shield in Japan is to defend Japan and US from NK missile attack read China.Have a realty check .
The days when the US can attack China with immunity and impunity are over.

John Mulcahy
September 6, 2011 at 01:16

Iran has published more scientific papers than China last year according to a Canadian Organization. What amazes me is the most brtual sanctions imposed upon this nation has not able to prevent the rise of Iran. Turkey and Iran has published 4 times more papers than anybody. Together with China, and other Asian Giants, the rise of Iran and Turkey at the same time is the testimony of the end of western era that dominated more or less the world for about 2 to 3 centuries.

ozivan
September 5, 2011 at 11:16

Leonard ..Is that you ? Thank you for the rebalance.

ozivan
September 5, 2011 at 05:29

@nandan. Then the Lord replied.

Not by MIGHT, but by FAITH.

And the Lord reminded that mankind is born of a sinful nature, that the US has set the example and standards that all sinful nations and wannabes shall hope to aspire.

The Lord then rested on the seventh day, and decided not to teach mankind anymore from then on.

Pee-wee Herman
September 5, 2011 at 02:37

@John Chan, I suppose it’s China’s non-interference policy that sought to sell arms to Qaddafi? Why do you lie? I think China needs to get booted out of the U.N. pronto.

nandan , a messenger of peace
September 4, 2011 at 17:30

PEACE IS WHAT WE MUST ALL BUILD , MISSILES ARE SOMETHING WHICH MY LORD DOESN’T LIKE
CAN YOU MAKE THAT FOR THE ALMIGHTY , MR. CHINA,AND WANNABE WORLD INVADERS …….

Edy
September 4, 2011 at 09:04

China needs to keep building it’s military capability, and the most important, keep building more nuclear war heads to match those of US’.
The reason is, because the USA is encircling China from every direction. When Soviet wanted to encircle USA from Cuba, American was so panic. But today they are doing so to China, and still keep accusing China as offensive or a threat.
The USA is so hypocrite, at one face they support the one China policy, at the other face they sell weapon to Taiwan. They also support rebellion in Tibet and terrorist in Xinjiang. What is USA feeling if China supports the independent of Indian (native American) and demands the white to return to Europe? Same with Aborigin in Australia.
In fact, the US government is the biggest terrorist organization in the world, and the US treasury is the biggest ponzi scheme in the world.

Leonard R.
September 4, 2011 at 00:28

China will be a bogeyman in the 2012 election by both parties. Some TV ads have already been produced. They will uphold the standard of silliness and inanity the world rightly expects from American presidential elections.

I don’t know why the CCP wouldn’t like Obama. He bows. He allows his guests to insult him at dinners he throws in his home. Ask him to kowtow for peace. Let’s see what happens.I think the CCP probably likes Perry. But Perry’s supporters don’t like China. He may have sum ‘splainin to do down the road a bit.

The US military posture in WestPac is already changing dramatically. I think foreign policy will slowly follow. It’s the tail. The Pentagon & intelligence services are the dog.

Bruce Chung
September 3, 2011 at 14:52

John Chan: “Directly involved in the USA election is interfering other nation’s internal affairs, it is against the China’s non-interference policy, China cannot do it because it is a betray of China’s integrity.”

This is a lie and John Chan knows it. For example, there is definitive evidence of an effort by the PRC to influence American politics during the 1996 federal elections. Something like twenty people were convicted for fraud and funneling PRC funds into US elections (some were associates of Gore and Clinton).

The PRC also “owns” politicians in other western countries like Canada.

John Chan
September 3, 2011 at 12:26

@Pee-wee Herman:
Libertarianism let everybody grows freely, and Authoritarianism dictates others. China’s non-interference policy supports everybody to grow freely, it is Libertarianism. Meanwhile the Westpac led by the USA dictates others the way to grow, it is Authoritarianism.

ozivan
September 3, 2011 at 08:52

@John Chan & Tony Lee. JC, Thanks for the history and suggestion. Those are possibilities that we should well consider.

Pee-wee Herman
September 3, 2011 at 04:17

JW is wrong, Libertarianism is on the opposite end of the political spectrum of Authoritarianism. It’s impossible for China to have “Libertarian Foreign Policy”. It’s a bluff.

Pee-wee Herman
September 3, 2011 at 03:39

Just to add to your last paragraph. In 1996, the vice commandant of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences said “..it will be absolutely necessary that we quietly nurse our sense of vengeance…we must conceal our abilities and bide our time.” This is also not a rumor but a fact.

Quietly nurse our sense of vengeance?! Vengeance for what? Preemptive vengeance via nuke strike is my guess.

ven.geance noun
:PUNISHMENT inflicted in retaliation for an injury or offense :RETRIBUTION

John Chan
September 3, 2011 at 02:38

@nirvana:
Although it is a nice thought, and probably is the only practical solution to pull USA out of its financial mess.

Directly involved in the USA election is interfering other nation’s internal affairs, it is against the China’s non-interference policy, China cannot do it because it is a betray of China’s integrity.

But running USA as a trust on behalf of the USA people, then return USA back to its citizens after everything is sorted out, I would think it might be acceptable to China.

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