Though Beijing has vocally opposed the “weaponization“ of space in the past, China's air force chief, General Xu Qiliang, this week called military competition in space “inevitable.” Is dramatically increased funding for NASA also inevitable?
The remarks, indicated a major policy shift from their previous demands for a ban on space weapons. The comments were published in several state media outlets and are a reminder of the growing technology-based rivalry between the US and China. These pointed remarks are especially salient given China's buildup of its space program to “catch up to the west“ and NASA's budgetary woes.
According to Xinhua, China's official news agency, General Xu said “Competition between military forces is developing towards the sky and space, it is extending beyond the atmosphere and even into outer space. This development is a historical inevitability and cannot be undone“¦In the face of this challenge, you don't have a voice unless you have power.“
Sobering words to the Western observers and members of the Augustine Commission. The commission, led by Norm Augustine, published last month its evaluation on the future viability of the US space program and NASA’s role in future space exploration. Augustine will be speaking soon to the distinguished members of the Potomac Officers Club, a well-established Washington area platform used by national leaders. Many are awaiting this speaking engagement December 2nd vis-a-vis the increasing space static coming from China and NASA critics. His comments will be telling. Members can click here to register.
Beijing has already demonstrated its ability to strike military targets in space. In 2007, China alarmed military observers in the US by shooting down one of its own satellites, proof that China could theoretically target enemy satellites.
The timing and style of Gen Xu's message resembled similar comments by China's navy chief this year, when Admiral Wu Shengli, its commander-in-chief, announced that the Chinese Navy would develop a new generation of warships. The remarks are widely seen as confirmation of plans for a Chinese Aircraft carrier.