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UK, Japan, Australia Concerned About China Space Test January 19, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.

TOKYO (AP)–The U.K., Japan and Australia joined the U.S. on Friday in voicing concern about the rising militarization of space after China successfully carried out a test of an anti-satellite weapon.

But Russia expressed skepticism about the Jan. 11 test, in which an old Chinese weather satellite was destroyed by a ballistic missile.

In Beijing, meanwhile, a foreign ministry spokesman said Friday he was unaware of such a test. The spokesman, Liu Jianchao, added that China was against the militarization of space.

In Washington, deputy White House press secretary Dana Perino said Chinese officials had not yet responded to the concerns expressed by the U.S.

“We do want cooperation on a civil space strategy, so until we hear back from them or have more information, I don’t have any more to add,” she said.

Analysts said China’s weather satellites travel at about the same altitude as U.S. spy satellites, so the test represented an indirect threat to U.S. defense systems.

Officials in Japan, the U.K. and Australia immediately demanded China explain its actions.

“We must use space peacefully,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. “We are asking the Chinese government about the test.”

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso criticized Beijing for failing to give advance notice. He also said debris from the test could scatter in the atmosphere.

“We told China that we doubt if we could call this a peaceful use,” Aso said at a news conference.

A spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair said diplomats had complained to their counterparts in Beijing about the lack of consultation with the international community.

They also relayed their concern that debris from the test would strike other satellites orbiting the Earth, said Blair’s official spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

Blair’s spokesman said the U.K. government didn’t believe China’s test contravened international law.

“However, we believe that this development of technology and the manner in which this test was conducted is inconsistent with the spirit of China’s statement to the U.N. and other bodies on the military use of space,” the spokesman said.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who was in New York, said his government opposed the test and had called upon Beijing’s ambassador to Australia for an explanation.

“Our concern about this is that to have a capacity to shoot down satellites in outer space is not consistent with… the traditional Chinese position of opposition to the militarization of outer space,” he told reporters.

“So we’ve asked the Chinese for an explanation as to what this may mean,” Downer said, adding that so far Chinese officials, including the ambassador in Canberra, said they weren’t aware of the test.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov voiced doubts about details of the test.

“I’m afraid that it didn’t have an anti-satellite basis. And, maybe, it’s good that it didn’t,” Sergei Ivanov said in televised remarks, adding that Russia was against militarization of space.
He didn’t elaborate and it was unclear whether he questioning the success of the test or its intent.

RIA Novosti news agency quoted retired Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov, the former head of the Russian defense ministry’s international military cooperation department, as saying that the Chinese weapon was modeled on the Soviet IS-1 missile designed to destroy satellites, developed in the 1970s.

Another Russian military expert, Maj. Gen. Vyacheslav Fateyev, criticized the Chinese test as “hooliganism,” but added that “it shows that Beijing has a strong capability,” ITAR-Tass said.

It also quoted Russian Lt. Gen. Leonid Sazhin as saying that the Chinese test was a response to the U.S. developing space-based weapons. “China tested anti-satellite weapons to ensure its security,” Sazhin said, according to ITAR-Tass.

Russia and China have forged what they called “strategic partnership” after ending their Cold War rivalry, pledging commitment to a “multipolar world” – a term that highlights their opposition to perceived U.S. domination in global affairs.

South Korea has also conveyed its concerns to China, according to the Foreign Ministry.


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