26 March 2011

Defense and Deterrence in China’s Military Space Strategy

Michael S. Chase, Defense and Deterrence in China’s Military Space Strategy,” Jamestown China Brief, 11.5 (25 March 2011).

China’s theory of space deterrence may be a work in progress, but Beijing is already developing an impressive array of counter-space systems. Indeed, the capabilities that China is working on go beyond the direct ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon, successfully tested in January 2007. The test demonstrated its capability to destroy satellites in low-earth orbit and was followed by a missile intercept test in January 2010. According to the 2010 Department of Defense (DoD) report on Chinese military developments, “China is developing a multi-dimensional program to improve its capabilities to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by potential adversaries during times of crisis or conflict.” In addition to the direct ascent ASAT, China’s capabilities include foreign and domestically developed jamming capabilities, and the inherent ASAT capabilities of its nuclear forces. In addition, “China is developing other technologies and concepts for kinetic and directed-energy (e.g. lasers, high-powered microwave, and particle beam) weapons for ASAT missions.” According to Chinese analysts, along with the increasing its importance for military and commercial reasons, space is becoming an important domain for the defense of national security and national interests. …