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Chinese Anti-Satellite Powers A Prelude To War With U.S. Forces: Analyst

By | June 25, 2007

      China developed and successfully tested various anti-satellite capabilities as a means to countering overwhelming U.S. military superiority, so that China might be able to win a toe-to-toe war with American forces.

      So states Anthony J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank, in writing a policy brief and in comments at an Endowment panel forum.

      For example, if China wishes to invade and conquer Taiwan (as China has vowed to do if Taiwan doesn’t submit to rule by Beijing), then China will wish to offset overwhelming U.S. military dominance. The United States is committed to defending Taiwan from a Chinese attack. The “emergence of potent Chinese counterspace capabilities makes U.S. military operations in Asia more perilous,” Tellis argued.

      “These threats” of attacking U.S. space-based assets “have arisen because China’s requirement that it be able to defeat the United States in a future regional conflict — despite [the Chinese] inferiority in conventional military power — compels it to exploit every asymmetric battle-space-denial technology prospectively available.”

      Thus the United States must find a means of defending its space assets, Tellis argues. “The United States has no choice but to run and win this offense/defense space race if it is to both uphold its security obligations in East Asia and elsewhere and deter increased Chinese investments in counterspace operations.”

      Some members of Congress have said the United States must develop, quickly, a means of defeating Chinese anti-satellite powers, such as Chinese ground-launched missiles that can intercept and destroy U.S. and allied military and commercial space assets, and Chinese ground-based lasers that can disable satellites. Some have said this could be an added mission for the U.S. ballistic missile defense program.

      Tellis’s policy brief entitled “Punching the U.S. Military’s ‘Soft Rib’s’: China’s Antisatellite Weapon Test in Strategic Perspective” may be read in full by going to on the Web.

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