The prospect of “Star Wars” between China and the West loomed last night after Beijing used a ballistic missile to destroy a satellite in space.
The missile, which hit a 4ft-wide obsolete Chinese weather satellite 530 miles above the Earth, is thought to have been launched from the Xichang space centre in -China’s Sichuan province.
It suggests that the Chinese have developed a major new capability that underscores the communist regime’s desire to use its military might as well as burgeoning economic power to expand its influence.
“The US believes China’s development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of co-operation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area,” said Gordon Johndroe, spokes-man for the US National Security Council, yesterday. “We and other countries have expressed our concern regarding this action to the Chinese.”
It is understood that Australia and Canada have also protested to China.
The ability to destroy satellites with such precision could undermine the US National Missile Defence programme, a network of rocket interceptors, computers and satellites intended to protect America and its key allies from nuclear attack. It became known as “Son of Star Wars” after President Ronald Reagan’s so-called “Star Wars” programme proposed in the 1980s.
China is seeking to challenge American military strength in the Far East, including its vital trade routes in the South China Sea and Straits of Malacca.
Short- and medium-range ballistic missiles have been developed with the potential to take on American aircraft carriers.
There has also been investment in new nuclear submarines. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has launched as many as 60 ships in the past five years and last March announced that it would build an aircraft carrier.
Chinese military spending more than doubled between 1997 and 2003 and is now estimated to be second only to the US as a percentage of GDP.
One study last year projected that China’s annual military budget would be $185 billion by 2025.
Yeah, neo-cons, lets keep doing business with these people. Good Plan!
If we didn’t treat Russia and China with kid-gloves, maybe these tin-pot dictators would think twice.