Archive for the ‘anti-satellite’ Category

China says US exaggerates military threat

March 6, 2008

BEIJING (AFP) – China‘s official Communist Party mouthpiece on Thursday said a Pentagon report exaggerated Chinese military capabilities to justify US sales of military hardware to Beijing‘s rival Taiwan.

Chinese soldiers are seen here during a ceremony in Nanjing, ...
Chinese soldiers are seen here during a ceremony in Nanjing, in December 2007. China’s official Communist Party mouthpiece on Thursday said a Pentagon report exaggerated Chinese military capabilities to justify US sales of military hardware to Beijing’s rival Taiwan.
(AFP/File/Liu Jin)

“The report maliciously exaggerates China’s ability to wage computer warfare and its space capabilities,” said a commentary in the People’s Daily news headlined, “An Outmoded Report.”

“These reports by the US Defence Department have been used in the past as a pretext to justify continued weapons sales to Taiwan,” it said.

The editorial marked the latest salvo in a verbal tit-for-tat since the Pentagon report earlier this week expressed a range of concerns about China’s growing military might.

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Effort to Shoot Down Satellite Could Inform Military Strategy

February 20, 2008

By Marc Kaufman and Walter Pincus 

Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 20, 2008; Page A03

The Bush administration’s attempt to shoot down an out-of-control spy satellite as early as this evening will help the military advance its anti-missile and anti-satellite planning and technology, according to space weapons experts and analysts. Both fields are of high interest to the military and of high concern for many other nations.

While U.S. officials have depicted the attempt solely as a precaution against the slim chance that the satellite’s hazardous rocket fuel could harm people on Earth, the test will inherently have spillover military consequences, the experts said.

To accomplish this week’s task, for example, the Navy has modified its Aegis anti-missile radar system for satellite tracking, making clear that a system designed for missile defense can be transformed into an anti-satellite system in a short time.

The attempted shoot-down will also enable the Pentagon to practice using, in an urgent scenario, key elements of its space defense apparatus, including the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and its sophisticated space identification, tracking and targeting system.

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The Giant (China) is Restive

February 19, 2008

By James Zumwalt
February 19, 2008

China Causes U.S. Debate: How Best to Protect U.S. Satellites

December 23, 2007
By Kevin Whitelaw
U.S. News and World Report
December 17, 2007 Edition

Some of the U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq’s troubled Anbar province most likely wondered why the Air Force was sending a space weapons expert to help them fight Sunni insurgents. But U.S. forces there had a tough problem. Traditional artillery was too inaccurate for urban hotbeds like Fallujah, and insurgents took cover when they heard attack aircraft overhead.

The Army offered what seemed like a good solution—the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, a mobile battery that fires precision missiles from miles away. The powerful new weapon, however, came with a serious glitch—the launcher sometimes relied on outdated coordinates from GPS satellites, which could send rockets hundreds of yards off target. Maj. Toby Doran, the space expert, helped find creative ways to prevent the error, and the launcher was put into action.

That’s just one small example of how integral satellites have become to even the most basic daily operations of today’s U.S. military, not to mention the broader U.S. economy. But any sense that this crucial sophisticated technology is out of the reach of potential enemies because it flies hundreds, even thousands, of miles above Earth disappeared early this year. On January 11, China blew up one of its own aging weather satellites….

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SecDef Gates sees division in Chinese actions

December 22, 2007

By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times
December 22, 2007

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday that recent military incidents involving the U.S. and China indicate troubling signs of division between Beijing’s military and the nation’s communist political leaders.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, accompanied by Joint Chiefs ...

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, accompanied by Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright, takes part in a news conference at the Pentagon, Friday, Dec. 21, 2007. (AP Photo/Heesoon Yim)

China’s refusal to permit U.S. Navy ship visits to Hong Kong last month and a provocative anti-satellite weapon test in January are prompting U.S. intelligence agencies to worry that the Chinese military is not under the control of the civilian government in Beijing, according to other defense officials.

Mr. Gates voiced similar concerns yesterday when asked by a reporter whether China had explained why it barred the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk and accompanying warships from making a Thanksgiving Day port call in Hong Kong.

“What has been interesting to me this year is that I think we have had two situations in which there appears to have been a disconnect within the Chinese government,” Mr. Gates said.

After the Chinese military’s successful January test of a missile against a weather-satellite target, China’s Foreign Ministry “didn’t seem to understand or know what had happened” and indicated “confusion” over the test, he said.

“We seem to have had a little bit of the same thing with the Kitty Hawk, where the military may have made a decision that was not communicated to the political side of the government,” Mr. Gates said. “Now, I don’t know that for a fact, but there’s just some hint of that.”

A senior defense official said that Chinese President Hu Jintao was familiar with China’s secret anti-satellite weapon program but may not have known about the Jan. 11 test, which contradicted China’s public position against the development and deployment of space weapons.

A senior U.S. military officer said there also were signs earlier this year that senior Chinese air force generals were not aware of the existence of the anti-satellite weapons program, which is thought to be a top-secret effort directed by the Communist Party’s Central Military Commission. It is led by Mr. Hu as chairman and has two senior Chinese generals as vice chairmen.

Intelligence officials are said to disagree over the analysis of a Chinese leadership split, with pro-China analysts citing a split as explaining hostile Chinese behavior as the result of differences between hawks and doves. A similar analysis during the Cold War sought to explain Soviet behavior, though post-Cold War analysis showed the appearance to be deliberate disinformation.

Still, worries over suspected divisions in China’s leadership are prompting concerns about the control over China’s nuclear arsenal, which is currently expanding in both quantity and quality, defense officials said. China’s military is deploying three new types of advanced, long-range nuclear missiles and a new class of ballistic-missile submarines.

Chinese military leaders so far have not agreed to U.S. government requests for talks on strategic nuclear weapons, despite a promise made by Mr. Hu to President Bush last year to send the commander of China’s nuclear forces to visit the United States and the military’s U.S. Strategic Command. China’s military leaders are said to fear that talks on nuclear forces with the U.S. will lead to disclosures of information that could be used against China in a conflict.

U.S. intelligence agencies know very little about the forces and command-and-control arrangements for China’s nuclear weapons, which are estimated to include about 20 long-range nuclear missiles and several hundred shorter-range, nuclear-capable missiles.

Mr. Gates said that China is continuing its military buildup but that he does not consider China “an enemy.”

“I think there are opportunities for continued cooperation in a number of areas,” he said. “I still think it’s important for us to develop the strategic dialogue with China where we sit down and talk about how we see the threat, how each of us perceives the threat and the purpose behind our modernization programs and so on.”

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military, said Mr. Gates’ comments on a possible split among Chinese leader is a cause for concern and should be clarified.

“If such a split is real, then he should also explain if there is a danger of a [military] coup against the party,” said Mr. Fisher, vice president of the International Assessment and Strategy Center. “Such a coup could lead to a PLA-led war against Taiwan for ‘national unity,’ a war that could easily escalate into a nuclear exchange.”

Mr. Fisher said he knows of disturbing reports of tensions between the ruling Communist Party and the military over efforts by Mr. Hu to crack down on corruption in the military.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who appeared with Mr. Gates, also said he wants to develop closer lines of communication with the Chinese military to avoid misunderstandings over issues like the Kitty Hawk, the anti-satellite test and Taiwan.

Asked about tensions between China and Taiwan over Taipei’s plan to hold a nationwide vote seeking United Nations membership under the name Taiwan, instead of the formal Republic of China, Mr. Gates said he is not worried “there will be a military reaction.”

Mr. Gates also called “specious” claims in the Chinese and U.S. press that the reason the Kitty Hawk was blocked from Hong Kong was Chinese anger that the defense secretary had not warned Chinese military leaders during his visit to China in October that the Pentagon was set to sell upgraded Patriot missile equipment to Taiwan.

Report: “U.S. Military Vulnerable to China’s War Systems”

November 23, 2007

By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times
November 22, 2007

The U.S. military is vulnerable to China’s advanced war-fighting systems, including space weapons and computer attacks that would be used in a future conflict over Taiwan, according to a congressional commission’s report released yesterday.

The full report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission also provides more details than the summary released last week, showing that China is engaged in a “large-scale industrial espionage campaign” with “scores” of cases involving spies seeking U.S. technology.

The full report presents a harsh assessment of China’s military buildup and plans for a war against the U.S. if Beijing decided to use force against the island nation of Taiwan.

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Part II: U.S. Secretary of Defense in China — What China May Be Thinking

November 5, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 6, 2007

China will have the most trouble swallowing the American idea that “transparency” is in its own national interest.

But to lower tensions in the western Pacific, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia have all made strong statements indicating that China has to embrace a less secretive approach.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, standing alongside General Cao Gangchuan, China’s defense minister, also said he had raised “the uncertainty over China’s military modernization, and the need for greater transparency to allay international concerns.”

On Tuesday Mr. Gates will meet with China’s President Hu Jintao.

Chinese experts say China will not be able to adopt a more “transparent” approach very soon.

“Revealing more about its budgets, intentions and weapons development programs would seem like giving away a key national advantage to China,” said M.K. Hsu, a military analyst in Beijing.  “The communist leaders will reveal what they want, when they want, just as they did with the anti-satellite system,” he told us by phone.

China’s surprise anti-satellite test early this year and the continued cyber attacks and probes from China are near the top of the U.S. agenda in the discussions with China.

“There has been significant discussion and activity to assess the impact of [the anti-satellite test] and other [Chinese] space developments, and how to protect our extraordinarily important space capability,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Daniel Leaf, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command told the Washington Times last week.

But the fact that China’s first ASAT test was conducted without prior announcement shows that China’s penchant for secrecy is deeply rooted and will not be easily neutralized.

As we at Peace and Freedom have assessed before, secrecy and surprise are considered valuable tools to a nation not yet on a par militarily with the United States.  Without causing too many alarms to go off, China wants to develop more advanced capabilities and  larger, better organized forces with the finest in command and control.  This will take time and an incredible investment. And, in China’s view, a slow and secrative approach.

China is a nation of distrust.  In our experience, one of the Chinese cultural traits is the steady goal to get the best of others in all business dealing and a tremendous distrust of everyone — especially outsiders.  This is often true on the personal and national level.  Therefore, secrecy has become a mainstay of Chinese life.  Communist China has magnified this cultural tendency.  In China, “Mind your own business” is an important cautionary red-flag.

If we could read the minds of the Chinese the U.S. Secretary of Defense met on Monday, we’d guess that the military men in the Chinese delegation were sending the “Mind your own business” warning.  The more enlightened communist party civilian leadership was probably somewhat more accomodating.

China’s rapidly expanding economy and the huge balance of trade with the U.S. is more than sufficient to turn China into a U.S. rival within a decade.  Maybe mush sooner — at least in sophisticated equipment.  It might take longer to train a more professional military.  In one sense, the United States is funding China’s military advancement and expansion by allowing so many dollars to flow toward Beijing and Shanghai.

When Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with his counterpart and other Chinese military leaders on Monday, he offered several ways that the two nations might lessen tensions and concerns; including those of Australia, South Korea and Japan.  But China only agreed to one critical tension reducing measure: the establishment of a “hot line” between the two nations.  And China was not shy in informing reporters that the Chinese military establishment did not want this new initiative adopted (the “none of your business” group).  The civilian leadership directed agreement (the more accomodating group).

The other agreements made Monday will make less news. 

China agreed to allow U.S. personnel to evaluate some of its Korean War documents and files to assist in accounting for U.S. personnel still unaccounted for from that war.  And Mr. Gates and his counterparts agreed to organize a new joint naval exercise larger and more complex than previously held exercises “at a proper time,”  and made a deal to plan to exchange military students at academies and war colleges in the future.

Gates acknowledged that he had made little headway in getting answers from the Chinese on the larger issues of his mission including space and cyber security measures.

But maybe the biggest issue is this: China and Russia have embraced each other.  They have teamed to oppose the U.S. on U.N. sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.  And they conducted the largest combined military exercise ever between the two nations this year.

We do not yet know how Mr. Gates approached this issue but we do know this: China will listen with its “deaf ear.”

The level of cooperation initiated by Monday’s meetings has to be considered a reflection of a military relationship still in its infancy.

Part I: U.S. Secretary of Defense in China —
U.S. Objectives

Part I: U.S. Secretary of Defense in China — U.S. Objectives

November 5, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 5, 2007

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is traveling in China this week to discuss a host of issues including “transparency,” space security, cyber security, and the possible installation of a hot line between the two nations.

One of Mr. Gates’ key goals is to encourage China toward more “transparency“ or honest openness in its military budgets, programs and intentions.

The U.S. has been baffled by — and complained about — China’s penchant for secrecy in all things and its sometimes starteling behavior. One surprise incident transpired in 2001 when a U.S. “spy plane” was hit in mid-air — apparently intentionally — by a Chinese fighter jet. The American flight crew and aircraft were held by the Chinese in a provacative standoff.

Secrecy and inexplicable behavior are almost the main hallmarks of communist China’s way of doing business.

But the current regime, headed by President Hu Jintao, considers itself relatively frank and open.

For example, ten years ago, the world would not have known about a Chinese Communist Party Conference until after the conclusion of the event. Last month, China had such a conference, punctuated by televised addresses and nightly news conferences.

Despite these format and window dressing changes, the West still didn’t learn much of the substance about what was really going on.

One of President Hu’s favorites in the Chinese bureaucracy is Vice Premier Wu Yi (her nickname is “The Iron Lady“). She is currently in charge of cleaning up the tainted food scandal. Time Magazine has called her the “goddess of transparency” — which must have made President Hu and Vice Premier Wu beam with pride.

Transparency, and in fact all the other key issues — space security, cyber security, and installation of a hot line between the two nations — might lessen regional tensions.

Japan and Australia have gone on the record with their concerns that China’s lack of openness combined with provocative actions like the test of an anti-satellite system, may be causing instability in the Western pacific region.

Early last July a Defense White Paper from Japan expressed concern about China. “There are fears about the lack of transparency concerning China’s military strength,” the paper said. “In January this year, China used ballistic missile technology to destroy one of its own satellites. There was insufficient explanation from China, sparking concern in Japan and other countries about safety in space as well as the security aspects.”

That same week, Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard said, “The pace and scope of [China’s] military modernization, particularly the development of new and disruptive capabilities such as the anti-satellite missile, could create misunderstandings and instability in the region.”

And on Saturday, November 3, 2007, the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun published an account of their interview with South Korea’s President Roh Moo-Hyun who voiced concern over Japan and China’s military capabilities and build-up.”The hostile relationship between Japan and China is a burden for South Korea,” the President said in the interview.

“Both must make efforts to change their relationship of being vigilant towards each other and of expanding their military arsenal. It’s inevitable that they would react sensitively (to one another),” he added.

The U.S. has concerns about China too, but Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen have gone out of their way to say that China is not a rival or an adversary.

But speaking to Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz last week, Air Force Lt. Gen. Daniel Leaf, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said that China’s anti-satellite test and the robust and continual computer hacking caused by China has resulted in increased emphasis in those defense areas for the U.S.

“There has been significant discussion and activity to assess the impact of [the anti-satellite test] and other [Chinese] space developments, and how to protect our extraordinarily important space capability,” he said.

Pentagon officials and media reports have said Chinese military hackers in recent months carried out computer-based attacks on Pentagon and U.S. military and civilian government computer networks, as well as on foreign government networks. Newspapers even cited reliable Pentagon sources as saying Secretary Gates’ Pentagon computer may have been penetrated or disrupted by the Chinese.

And China has established detailed protective measures of its own computer systems, sometimes called “The Great Cyber Wall.”

The idea of a “hot line,” or direct telephone hook-up with round-the-clock translators, comes from a system used for years between the Soviet Union and the United States. The hot line is believed to be a major tool toward increased understanding of events and intentions — thus preventing conflict or weapons use through a misunderstanding.

The idea gained momentum especially among senior Naval Officers after a Chinese submarine surfaced unannounced and unexpectedly and within shooting range of the American aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk late last year.

JCS Chairman Admiral Mullen is known to be a proponent of the hot line and has already discussed the idea with his Chinese counterpart.

So Mr. Gates has clear objectives as he holds discussions with senior Chinese military leaders.

It should come as no surprise that China’s objectives remain shrouded in secrecy.

In Part II on Tuesday we’ll assess the elephant in the meeting room: China’s bocking of U.S. initiatives in the U.N.

Whether the discussions between the U.S. and China will bear fruit remains to be seen. We’ll discuss this more in Part II tomorrow.

Gates to press China on Iran nukes

November 4, 2007

By Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press Writer
November 4, 2007

EN ROUTE TO BEIJING – Robert Gates, making his first visit to China as defense secretary, is expected to press the Chinese to do more to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities.

Before he left Saturday for the trip, Gates made it clear that he is pursuing a closer alliance with China, and said he doesn’t see the communist giant as a military threat.

But at the same time, senior defense officials said the Pentagon is still frustrated by China’s failure to be more open about its military ambitions. And Gates will probably push China to better explain its anti-satellite test early this year.

In January, a Chinese missile shattered a defunct Chinese weather satellite…..

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SecDef Gates Visits China This Week

November 3, 2007

By Andrew Gray
November 3, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits China next week at the start of an Asian tour, aiming to strengthen relations while also expressing concerns about China’s military buildup.

Robert Michael Gates
Robert Gates

Gates, a former CIA director who replaced Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon last December, will also visit South Korea and Japan during his trip.

Gates said this week he did not consider China a military threat to America “at this point” and relations between the two countries have warmed considerably since a 2001 low point when a Chinese fighter crashed into a U.S. spy plane.

[The author goes on to discuss the issues between the two nations, such as space security, cyber security and “transparency.”]

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