TAIPEI (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Space Command said on Friday that China is building capabilities that put most U.S. space assets at risk and that China sees the area as critical to its military strategy.
Historically a laggard in a region controlled by the United States and Russia, Beijing has made significant advances in recent years that have alarmed Washington and other Western countries, including an anti-satellite missile test in 2007.
Like ASAT, or anti-satellite, space is crowded with debris, Army Gen. James H. Dickinson, commander of the US Space Command, told reporters on a conference call from Hawaii.
“They continue to build and build capabilities that really, quite frankly, put most of our assets at risk in space. It’s really progress if you’re going to do that in their capabilities,” he said, referring to China. “Their understanding (is) that space is a very important part of not only their global economic or economic environment but also their military environment. We continue to monitor that closely as they continue to increase capabilities.”
China says its space program is for peaceful purposes.
Three Chinese astronauts landed on Earth Sunday aboard the return capsule of the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft, state broadcaster CCTV reported, ending a six-month stint on the Chinese space station.
The station marks an important milestone in China’s three-decade manned space program, which was first approved in 1992. It also marks the beginning of a permanent Chinese stay in space.
Dickinson said his command, along with the American command in the Indo-Pacific, focused on the challenge from China.
“A united stance by allies and partners is critical to countering the coercion and subversion that threaten the rules-based international order here in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” he said.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jerry Doyle)
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