01/27/2007, 00.00
CHINA

“China wants to become a military space superpower”

As affirmed by a senior Chinese military Official, who confirms the inevitability of an arms race in space. According to officials of the US Government, if military competition increases, the USA could reconsider commercial relations with Beijing.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Angency): “There will be increasingly more weapons in outer space during our lifetime.” Despite the general will to protect a pacific use of space, the rapid growth of arms in space is inevitable, retains Yao Yunzhu, a senior Colonel in the People's Liberation Army.
 
Yao, who heads the Asia-Pacific Office at the Academy of Military Science in Beijing, during a dinner at the Davos World Economic Forum (Switzerland), observed that “what China really wanted was that humanity would use space for peaceful purposes alone”. But, she added, in apparent reference to the United States, if there was going to be "a space superpower, it's not going to be alone, and China is not going to be the only one". {space superpower]
 
The January 12th test, in which a Chinese missile hit one of its own satellites in orbit at around 800 kilometres, drew strong criticism, especially from the United States and Japan, due to concerns over the possibility of an arms race in space. The test was a demonstration of Beijing’s ability to shoot down the network of US spy satellites which the military relies on. China confirmed the test only on the 23rd of January, but did not provide details or explanations.
 
But US government circles say that a military escalation would have consequences in commerce as well. Christopher Padilla, assistant Secretary of Commerce visiting Beijing, comments that the Chinese missile had confirmed the worst fears of Washington, and that, “none of this will lessen international anxieties about the growth in China's military capabilities”. "Even as we work to encourage China's peaceful development and civilian trade, we must also hedge our relations with China."
 
In the commercial field, the trade deficit of the US with China is expected to show an increase of up to 230-240 billions of dollars during 2006. For a long time Washington has been asking Beijing to revalue the yuan, protect intellectual property, and to consent to full access to US goods and services in the Chinese market, measures that would allow the reduction of the deficit. China has never directly refused, but has always procrastinated in adopting these measures.
 
Now the new military concern could make the commercial issues even more urgent. The United States is worried that China's programme to build or buy advanced ships, missiles and other weapons could eventually catch up with US military might.
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