China’s military
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
US Vice-President Kamala Harris announced a plan last month to introduce a UN resolution banning anti-satellite missile tests that create space debris. Photo: TNS

China’s military blasts US call to ban anti-satellite missile tests

  • PLA Daily says American plan to introduce UN resolution against testing ‘conceals evil intention’
  • Washington has other ways of taking down enemy satellites and is trying to fix its advantage over rivals, according to commentary
The United States’ unilateral call to end direct-ascent anti-satellite missile tests “conceals evil intention” and aims to “weaken others”, the Chinese military said.
US Vice-President Kamala Harris announced a plan last month to introduce a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly to ban destructive anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) tests, which create space debris that remains in orbit. In April, Harris announced that the US would not conduct destructive direct-ascent ASAT tests.

China, Russia and India are the only other countries that have conducted such tests.

Debris from Russian missile test forces ISS crew to take evasive action

In a statement on its commitment to stopping the tests, the White House mentioned a 2007 test by China, along with a similar one by Russia in November 2021, as examples of “one of the most pressing threats to the security and sustainability of space”.

Explaining the draft resolution to a UN working group on space threats, Mallory Stewart, US assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, said refraining from the ASAT tests would “enhance international peace and security and is a first step towards preventing conflict from occurring in outer space”.

The Chinese military on Wednesday said the American proposal would “strengthen themselves and weaken others” because the US military had already developed enough ASAT capability that no more testing was needed.


US Vice-President Kamala Harris addresses China threat as she kick-starts her Asia tour

US Vice-President Kamala Harris addresses China threat as she kick-starts her Asia tour

Chinese military newspaper The PLA Daily said in a video commentary that the US started destructive ASAT tests and experiments in 1959, causing serious damage to the space environment. It said the US had conducted more tests than any other country, and its tests were the earliest and most comprehensive.

The US is able to use existing anti-ballistic missile systems for anti-satellite operations, so the announcement that it would give up destructive direct-ascent ASAT tests, and its call for others to follow, was “a way of using the gap in the pace of weapons development to extend and fix a unilateral military advantage”, the commentary said.

“We welcome any arms control initiatives that would genuinely contribute to the goal of preventing an outer space arms race.”

US vows to not conduct anti-satellite missile tests

The commentary compared Washington’s proposal to the 1963 Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water. It said that treaty – signed by the US, the Soviet Union and Britain – was an attempt by the nuclear powers of the time to achieve a nuclear monopoly.

“The US also reserves the right to use other methods for space strikes,” said military commentator Hong Yuan.

According to Hong, the US has other mature technology options to take down enemy satellites, such as the X-37B orbital spacecraft, kinetic “killer satellites” and space-based ASAT systems, including mobile, descending or swarm-flying orbital weapons platforms.

Chinese scientists build weapon that can cause satellites to explode

Space is seen as the frontier of military operations and a strategic battlefield for superpowers, and China has been developing its anti-satellite capabilities.

In China’s 2007 test, a ground-based missile was fired from Sichuan province to shoot down a retired Chinese weather satellite. It was the first successful satellite interception since a test by the United States in 1985.

China has revealed other capabilities such as agile satellite manoeuvres in orbit to avoid US spy satellites and “scavenger” satellites that can grab and steer space debris with powerful robotic arms. US officials have said these technologies could be used to attack other satellites.