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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, "Hearing on China's Space and Counterspace Programs (Webcast)," February 18, 2015

This hearing was conducted by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on February 18, 2015. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.
February 18, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
608 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC

Hearing Co-Chairs: Commissioner Jeffrey L. Fiedler and Senator James M. Talent


Good morning and welcome to the second hearing of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission's 2015 Annual Report cycle. I would mention that this is being Webcast so those who are weather-averse are sitting at home watching.

I want to thank our witnesses for being here today and for the time they have put in to their excellent written testimonies. Each of their written statements will be submitted for the record and will be available online at the Commission's Web site,

Before we begin, let me take a moment to thank the Senate Budget Committee, Chairman Mike Enzi, and the Committee staff for providing this room for us today.

Today's hearing will examine the capabilities, scope and objectives of China's civilian and military space programs. It will also explore the research and development efforts behind these programs and the factors that have contributed to China's recent space technology advances. Finally, it will look at the economic and security implications of China's space and counterspace programs for the United States.

Over the last decade, China has rapidly scaled up and improved its civilian and military space platforms, including satellites, ground infrastructure and rockets. These inherently dual-use platforms help China achieve economic and scientific missions, while supporting expanded PLA operations and military modernization goals.

Although China is mostly playing catch-up to the United States in space capabilities, China poses a number of challenges to U.S. activities in space. First and foremost is China's development of new counterspace technologies that could disable or destroy U.S. satellites and their support architecture.

In a decade, China may lead the only international space station, fully deploy its own dual-use satellite navigation system, and serve as the primary space launch partner for many international customers.

We look forward to hearing a wide range of views today on how the United States can best address these challenges.

I will now turn to my hearing co-chair Senator Jim Talent for his opening remarks.


Thank you, Commissioner Fiedler and thanks to our witnesses for being here today to help us examine China's space programs and their implications for the United States.

America's space architecture is vital to its civilian life as well as to the operation of its armed forces, and until recently, Americans could take that architecture for granted. However, alongside China's ostensibly civilian space programs, the PLA is pursuing a multifaceted counterspace program with the ability to disrupt or destroy U.S. space architecture.

In 2007, China successfully tested its first kinetic antisatellite weapon, destroying an aging weather satellite and creating over 2,000 pieces of debris. This event shocked the international community, and the debris remains a threat to all satellites in orbit.

Since then, China has only increased its counterspace capabilities and has developed and tested more sophisticated technologies designed to disable or destroy satellites. These include missile intercept tests, robotic arm technology, ground-based lasers, and cyber attacks.

In July of last year, China conducted its third non-destructive anti-missile test in space.

Congress brought much-needed attention to China's counterspace program in a joint House subcommittee hearing last year. In the coming days, the Commission will publish a report by the University of California-San Diego that documents the full scope of China's counterspace capabilities, along with China's space programs. The lead author of that report, Kevin Pollpeter, is here with us today.

Panel I: China’s Civilian/Dual-Use and Military Space Programs
Mr. Kevin Pollpeter, Deputy Director, Study of Innovation and Technology in China, Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California-San Diego, San Diego, CA
Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese, Professor, National Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI
Mr. Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC

Panel II: Inputs to China’s Space Program
Dr. Alanna Krolikowski, Princeton-Harvard China and the World Fellow, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Mr. Tate Nurkin, Managing Director of Research and Thought Leadership, Jane’s IHS Aerospace, Defense and Security, Arlington, VA
Mr. Mark Stokes, Executive Director, Project 2049 Institute, Arlington, VA

Panel III: Implications for the United States
Mr. Richard D. Fisher, Jr., Senior Fellow, Asian Military Affairs, International Assessment and Strategy Center, Alexandria, VA
Dr. Roger Handberg, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Dr. Phillip Saunders, Distinguished Research Fellow and Director, Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, Washington, DC

See a video of the hearing here:



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