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Pillsbury, China's Anti-Satellite and Space Warfare Programs, Policies, and Doctrines, 2007

Prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission by Michael P. Pillsbury. Submitted January 19, 2007.
January 19, 2007

The first two parts of this study present the results of a survey of Chinese writings that discovered 30 proposals that China should acquire several types of anti satellite weapons. Many foreign observers have mistakenly claimed that China is a pacifistic nation and has no interest such weapons. The Director of the US National Reconnaissance Office Donald Kerr confirmed a Chinese laser had illuminated a US satellite in 2006. These skeptical observers dismissed that laser incident, but then appeared to be stunned by the reported Chinese destruction of a satellite January 11, 2007. China declined to confirm the event, but many foreign governments immediately protested,1 including Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada and Britain, while Russia’s defense minister suggested the report may not be fully accurate.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, while declining to confirm the incident, said other countries should not be alarmed. A US NSC spokesman said China fired a missile to destroy an orbiting weather satellite, making it the third country after the United States and the former Soviet Union to shoot down anything in space. If confirmed, the test would mean China could now theoretically shoot down spy satellites operated by other nations.

Commissioned Research Study entitled: “An Assessment of China's Anti-Satellite and Space Warfare Programs, Policies and Doctrines” prepared by Michael P. Pillsbury, Ph.D. (PDF)