China 'against space arm race'

A Chinese Gen reiterates Indian stand saying weaponisation of space has to be discouraged, writes Rahul Singh.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2007 21:01 IST

A Chinese general said on Monday that his country was against the weaponisation of space and it seeks to promote peaceful use of that medium.

Major General Liu Xinjiang, deputy commander of Lanzhou Regional Air Force, has reassured the international community that China would never engage in a space arms race or pose military threat to other nations.

Speaking at an international seminar on Aerospace Power in Tomorrow’s World, organised by the IAF, General Xinjiang said China had always supported peaceful utilisation of outer space.

China conducted its first missile strike against its own satellite last month, triggering concerns of a space arms race. It is the first country since 1995 to destroy a satellite in space and the third after the US and former Soviet Union to establish its expertise in `Star Wars’ technology.

India has also expressed concern at the Chinese use of 'Star Wars' technology. The apprehension is that if China can shoot down its own satellite, it can strike the orbiters operated by other nations as well.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Monday that it was the collective responsibility of all nations to ensure the safety and security of space assets like satellites. He said work on development of anti-satellite weapons had been going on for a long time and it might trigger a new arms race.

He reiterated the Indian stand saying that weaponisation of space had to be discouraged. He said, "Use of outer space for military objectives is a major challenge confronting all of us."

Antony said that though most of the military operations on the ground relied heavily on space capabilities like communication and surveillance, the same assets were crucial for peaceful development purposes.

"It may be difficult to demarcate distinctly between peaceful and military uses, but we have always advocated peaceful use of technology," Antony emphasised.

The government has also made it clear that it would not hesitate to exploit aerospace capabilities to make counter-terrorism operations more effective.

Antony said aerospace capabilities particularly airlift, aerial surveillance, communications and calibrated strikes could form an important component for counter-terrorism if required.

Email Rahul Singh:

First Published: Feb 05, 2007 01:11 IST