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China Delivers ASAT Shock Threapy To Western Alliance In Denial

Graphic courtesy AFP.

McCain Calls On China To Grow Up
Davos (AFP) Jan 27 - US Senator and presidential hopeful John McCain on Saturday said the time had come for China to justify its superpower aspirations and "step up" over issues like the North Korean nuclear crisis. "It's time for China to step up in the world and assume their responsibilities," McCain told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. "So far, some of us ... have been very disappointed in their lack of maturity," he added.

McCain, considered a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, said allowing Pyonyang to develop nuclear weapons would likely lead to regional proliferation. "How can the Japanese not rearm if the North Koreans continue with this?" he said. "It's in China's interest to restrain North Korea and so far there has been very little, if any, assistance in that area on the part of China." Six-nation talks on the nuclear issue -- involving the United States, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas -- resumed in December after a gap of more than one year, during which Pyongyang tested its first atom bomb.

The last session made no visible progress, with North Korea sticking to its demands that the United States end sanctions against a Macau-based bank accused of laundering money for the impoverished communist regime. Chief US envoy Christopher Hill voiced optimism after rare one-to-one talks with his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan in Berlin last week. But McCain insisted that Beijing, which carries the most influence with the leadership in Pyongyang, needed to bring more pressure to bear. "If China is going to be a superpower ... it has to act like a superpower," the senator said.

By Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Jan 26, 2007
China's successful anti-satellite missile test earlier this month came as a shock to the Washington defense establishment on the policitical right and left alike. The comfortable assumption shared by most liberal, Democrat-leaning and conservative, Republican defense analysts was that China was incapable of developing such a weapon for at least the next decade.

This consensus was repeatedly articulated in blogs and communications between American watchers of the Chinese space program. On the right, the confident assumption was that U.S. space assets remained invulnerable. On the left, it was widely assumed that China wanted to de-militarize space just as much as U.S. doves did.

Both those views have now been blasted into debris as much as the destroyed weather satellite was in the Jan. 11 test, details of which emerged this week.

The Washington Times Wednesday reported details of the successful test. It said U.S. defense intelligence agencies reported the test was carried out by a commercial KT-1 rocket, a version of the DF-21 missile that was fired from the Xichang space center in China's southwestern Sichuan province.

"The ASAT weapon separated from the last stage in space and then destroyed the Feng-Yun-1C weather satellite, launched in 1999 and orbiting over both poles," The Washington Times said

"U.S. officials said debris for the deployed satellite continues to orbit and poses a risk to some of the 800 satellites now in space, 400 of which are American," the newspaper said.

China's ASAT test derailed key U.S. government strategic assumptions. Bush administration policymakers had been confident that China was at least a decade away from being able to deploy such weapons.

China's repeated diplomatic calls for a new treaty to prevent the militarization of space were seen as an attempt to get the United States to abandon its strategic command of near space through diplomatic means precisely because China lacked the means to contest that superiority with its own space assets in the foreseeable future.

The Washington Times report detailed a key reason for that assumption. It noted that China had previously made at least three unsuccessful attempts by the same means to destroy a satellite in orbit about 500 miles above the earth.

The Washington Times also cited U.S defense officials as admitting that "there are major gaps in U.S. intelligence about which other space weapons China has or is developing that could cripple or disable U.S. satellites, which handle 90 percent of all military communications, as well as intelligence and missile guidance."

The stakes are very high in this lack of intelligence about China's developing ASAT capabilities. For the global U.S. dominance in conventional war over the past 15 years since the first Gulf War in 1991 has been explicitly based on space-based assets for reconnaissance, communications and control of military forces on the ground.

These orbiting space-based resources have also been essential for the precision-targeting and destruction of hostile military forces that have made U.S. military power so irresistible over the past decade and a half.

These assets would also be essential for the United States to successfully project its power to defend Taiwan from any future conventional military threat by China.

A report issued last month by the State Council, China's Cabinet, said the country's air force was giving priority to the development of new fighters as well as air and missile defense weapons.

We have previously noted in these columns the complacency by almost all U.S. analysts about the development of China's space war and asymmetrical warfare capabilities designed to neutralize the U.S. dominance in information technology and space-based military assets.

China has been systematically organizing hundreds of factories, possibly thousands, in an immense missile-industrial complex to boost its manned space program and also its space military capabilities. There has been a strong tendency in the United States to dismiss that effort because in the short term it did not appear to be delivering any significant achievements. The Jan. 11 test, however, has shown that the Chinese tortoise may yet prove to be a significant challenger in these fields to the American hare.

The Chinese ballistic missile, civilian space and asymmetrical warfare ASAT programs have all been marked by relatively, slow development punctuated by dramatic breakthroughs in capability after extensive preparations. This week's successful ASAT test fits that well-established pattern.

The test shook American doves too. Their argument that the United States could prevent the militarization of space by refraining from deploying its own space assets rested in large part on the assumption that China favored the diplomatic route.

But now, as analyst Victoria Samson of the Center for Defense Information, a Washington think tank, noted in a CDI report this week, "Due to the recent test, China now has lost much of its credibility in the international arena."

The Chinese do not appear to mind. They are clearly following the old principle that it is better to be respected and even feared for displaying one's strength, than liked but despised for acting idealistically and well-meaning in a condition of weakness. The Jan. 11 test was a display of strength and defiance towards Washington. It was also a warning that China intends to work hard to dramatically expand the ASAT capabilities it has already displayed.

Source: United Press International

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Japanese Minister Rebuked For Roiling US Alliance
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 28, 2007
Japan's defence minister has been slapped down by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office after stirring up the long alliance with the United States by criticising the Iraq war and a realignment of US forces. Four days after calling the US decision to invade Iraq "wrong", Fumio Kyuma said Saturday that Washington was "too cocky" in pressing Tokyo to relocate a US military base on the strategic island of Okinawa.

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