Militarization of Space: “China can’t stay Idle”

Huanqiu Shibao, on Wednesday, quoted Taiwan’s United Daily News (UDN, 聯合報) as reporting that Taiwan’s computerized Han Kuang 27 Exercise (漢光27號演習) is scheduled to begin on July 18, for a duration of five days. Asked if the military exercise would include China’s new aircraft carrier as a factor, assistant chief of staff Hau Yi-chi (郝以知) hadn’t answered the question directly, but replied that three years earlier, Han Kuang 24 had included anti-aircraft training (航空母舰反制演练),

supposing a PLAN aircraft carrier emerging east of Taiwan, to which Taiwan had “denied access” (deterrence) and attacked.

Taiwan’s “defense ministry” said that the need to meet growing PLA strength, updated equipment, and combat training changes had been brought into this year’s exercise, and after they had been found feasible,  they had been officially included into the operational plans.

The Taipei Times, also on Wednesday, suggested in its headline that the exercise would actually focus on a (or the) Chinese aircraft carrier. While the July 18 – 22 exercise will be computerized, the live-fire portion had been conducted in April. “Given the Chinese communists’ rapidly expanding military might, the defense ministry has centered on asymmetric warfare during the previous exercises”, the Taipei Times quotes Hau Yi-chi. Defense capabilities in the event of a surprise attack were also to be evaluated.

On Tuesday, Huanqiu Shibao quoted from a Journal of Strategic Studies (UK) report, which had suggested that China was developing cutting-edge satellites that would allow it to project power far beyond its shores and deter the United States from using aircraft carriers. The Huanqiu article didn’t comment on the report’s accuracy. One of the commenters within the thread underneath expected a fight anyway: “Rogue countries around the globe want to see a fight between China and America, they want to look at that funny story and to profit from the center (between the two warring parties – or would cóngzhōng yúlì mean “to profit from China? – 全世界的坏蛋国家都想看中美打仗,它们都想看笑话并从中渔利). Unmistakenly, another commenter decides that 全是屁话 – “this is all bullshit”. Voices of hope – “I hope this will come true, soon” (希望早日实现) and “I’m looking forward to this turning into fighting capacity” (期待早日形成战斗力) -are also among the first dozen comments.

Beijing has consistently denied it has anything other than peaceful plans for space and says its growing military spending and prowess are for defensive purposes and modernisation of outdated forces,

Reuters wrote on Monday, but signals in recent years, official statements aside, have been ambiguous, or to the contrary. In 2009,  Xu Qiliang (许其亮), the PLA’s airforce commander and a member of the CCP’s central military commission (CMC), called the militarization of space a “historic inevitability”, even if a  foreign ministry spokesman later told a press conference that China has not, and will never, participate in any kind of arms race in outer space. We have not changed our stance.

An Air Force Comand College’s manager, Colonel Wang Mingliang, told Huanqiu Shibao in March or April 2009 that there were indeed changes in the Aerospace Integration Concept. These were, however,  in step with a globally deepening understanding of the concept. People’s Daily and/or Huanqiu Shibao interpreted Wang Mingliang’s and another expert’s, Wang Mingzhi (王明志) as misinterpretations (曲解) by foreign media. Wang Mingzhi, also of the Air Force Command College, was quoted as saying that growing factors of uncertainty in the area of space had been an objective reason for the PLA to issue a new space defense concept. What was less than 20,000 meters high was frequently regarded as air space, and what was more than 100,000 meters high were outer space (or the universe, 太空). International law determined that there was free passage in outer space, while (territorial) air space could not be violated. But how to categorize what was in-between air space and outer space wasn’t clearly specified, and competition between the great countries (大国) concerning this field had become very intense.

Wang Mingliang again was quoted as saying that, given that not only America and Russia, but other strong countries, too, were building air and space power (其他国家也在建设空天力量), China had to maintain vigilance and develop defensive spatial power, rather than sitting idly like a scholar. Space integration wasn’t only a trend in the military field, but the trend of the entire era.

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» Legal Status, Wikipedia (as last modified on July 12, 2011, 15:28)

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