China calls Trump's Space Force a 'direct threat to peace' and 'serious violation of international consensus'

Pentagon report raises concerns that China and Russia could launch space attacks in time of conflict

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 23 December 2019 17:13 GMT

China has attacked Donald Trump’s newly created US Space Force as a “direct threat to outer space peace and security”.

The comment came from Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, who indicated to reporters that his country — a rising force in space — is “deeply concerned about it and resolutely opposed to it.”

“The relevant US actions are a serious violation of the international consensus on the peaceful use of outer space, undermine global strategic balance and stability, and pose a direct threat to outer space peace and security,” Mr Geng said.

The development of America’s Space Force comes amid concerns in the Pentagon that China and Russia are developing technologies that could let them destroy satellites owned by the US or its allies in a time of conflict, according to a report from February.

That threat has emerged less than two decades after China first sent a crewed mission to space, in 2003. Since then, China has rapidly developed its space program, and in 2007 launched an unannounced missile strike against its own defunct satellites. That attack yielded a large amount of space debris that could have threatened other satellites.

But Mr Geng said that the US concern is just the Pentagon seeking justification for its actions. He said that China believes that arms control treaties for space should be negotiated.

“We hope that the international community, especially the major powers concerned, will adopt a cautious and responsible attitude to prevent outer space from beginning a new battlefield and work together to maintain lasting peace and tranquillity in outer space,” he said.

The US Space Force has been championed by Mr Trump since he took office roughly three years ago, and the idea has been frequently mocked by his critics who have painted the effort as an immature and redundant effort.

But space contains critical technologies, including positioning systems that help to guide the American military as well as civilians. The Global Positioning System that allows weary travellers to find their way to the destination via their smartphones is maintained by around two dozen orbiting satellites that are operated by the 50th Space Wing in Colorado.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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