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Britain Concerned By Chinese Satellite Shoot-Down

The UK Blair government has reacted with deep concern to reports of a Chinese anti-satellite test.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jan 19, 2007
Britain added its voice to international concern over China's reported shooting down of an orbiting satellite Friday, in particular Beijing's lack of consultation and the potential impact of debris. Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman told reporters that British officials had raised the matter with China on Wednesday.

"We are concerned about the impact of debris in space and we expressed that concern," he said. "We don't believe that this does contravene international law.

"What we are concerned about, however, is lack of consultation and we believe that this development of this technology and the manner in which this test was conducted is inconsistent with the spirit of China's statements to the UN and other bodies on the military use of space."

British lobby group the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) also condemned China's reported move and said it believed it went against the UN's Prevention of an Arms Race in Space (PAROS) treaty.

China had been a "leading proponent" of the treaty but the United States had "repeatedly" blocked it, it added.

CND's chairwoman Kate Hudson said in a statement: "This step by China indicates the urgent necessity of securing the PAROS Treaty. "Weapons have no place in outer space; it is essential for the future of humanity that this frontier remain peaceful and free from dangerous weapons."

All countries needed to sign and ratify a treaty to give "unconditional assurances" there will not be an arms race in space, she added.

The United States, whose spy agencies claimed China destroyed the ageing weather satellite on January 11, and its Asian allies have expressed similar misgivings.

The impact reportedly occurred more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth, high enough to hit orbiting satellites.

China has said only that the world should not feel threatened by the development but refused to confirm it had happened.

If confirmed, it would be the world's first downing of a satellite since the 1980s, when the Soviet Union and the United States both destroyed space hardware in orbit. The two superpowers ceased the tests largely because of the problem of debris.

earlier related report
Japan Concerned Over Chinese Anti-Satellite Missile
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 19 - Japan Friday voiced concerns over a reported Chinese test of an anti-satellite weapon and sought explanations from Beijing.

"From the view of the peaceful use of space and international security, we naturally have concerns about it," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, the government spokesman, told a news conference.

He said Japan was asking the Chinese foreign ministry to explain details about the test, in which a ballistic missile successfully destroyed an old Chinese weather satellite.

The United States and Australia have also expressed concern about the test, which US spy agencies said took place on January 11 at more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth.

Japan has recently been improving relations with China, which were badly strained under former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi who repeatedly visited a controversial shrine to Japanese war dead.

But Japan has repeatedly expressed unease about China's rapidly growing military spending and urged the European Union not to lift its ban on arms exports to Beijing.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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No Response From China On US Space Complaints Says White House
Washington (AFP) Jan 19, 2007
China has yet to respond to US concerns about its space program, the White House said Friday, adding that Washington hopes for "cooperation on a civil space strategy" with Beijing. "We've expressed our concern to the Chinese, both to our Chinese officials here in (Washington), DC and in Beijing," said spokeswoman Dana Perino.

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