Chinese military experts have warned that US plans to deploy a national missile defence (NMD) system will lead to a new arms race, including one in outer-space.
China has noticed the US has made it clear that it intends to deploy its missile defence system, said Yao Yunzhu, deputy director of the Asia-Pacific Office of the Department of Foreign Military Studies, in the Academy of Military Science of the People's Liberation Army.
"The consequence will be a dangerous arms race in space," Yao said.
At the Munich Conference on Security Policy, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reiterated Washington's intention to deploy a missile shield despite objections from its European allies, Russia, China and other countries.
Yao, who studies US defence and security policies, noted that the recent US 'war games', simulating military confrontations in outer-space, signals US attempts to dominate space operations and the beginning of the militarization of space.
On January 22, more than 250 US military personnel and technical specialists took part in a five-day military exercise in Colorado Springs. The exercise, set in 2017, had China as the "Red Team", the assumed enemy.
It is the first time for a war game to have outer-space as a major theatre of war. Moreover, the exercise is thought to be only the first in a series that the US Space Command hopes to run every 18 months to examine space operational doctrine, the utility of space systems and the integration of space and terrestrial systems, according to Rob Hegstrom, chief of modeling and simulation at the US Space Command's Space Warfare Centre.
"We can not help but be worried about the negative impact and the chain reaction likely to be caused by such an ill-thought-out scenario," said Yao.
Teng Jianqun, chief editor of "World Military Review," warned that the recent US moves would upset the whole structure of strategic balance and create prerequisites for a new arms race.
The US development of an NMD project would require amendments to the Anti-ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty it signed with the former Soviet Union in 1972, which allows each country to have only one local missile defence system.
However, with an NMD system in place, the US could be more inclined to launch a first strike against other country while avoiding or reducing the risks of retaliatory strikes.
Undoubtedly, this alteration of the ABM Treaty will encourage more countries to update and expand their own missile capability to compensate for their perceived strategic disadvantages, said Teng.
"Seeking absolute superiority with military means is sure to deteriorate regional security and damage the interests of all parties," he said.
Meanwhile, Chinese military experts pointed out that the US government should base their NMD decisions on whether the deployment is politically sound, militarily effective and cost-effective in economic terms.
Even in the US, most people remain uninformed about the costs and potential risks involved in the deployment of a missile defence system, which is why the Administration is still debating the decision.
Although the US government has made it clear that an NMD system is what the country needs, it has to decide what particular system to deploy -- will it be sea-based, land-based, space-based or all three, nor does the US identify the scale it intends to apply.
Teng said the political implications of the deployment are clear -- to contain the "peer competitors" with the US -- China and Russia.
China maintains the demilitarization of outer space and does not want to be in an arms race of any form.
However, Teng said, when any country is taking China as a potential enemy and is preparing a military confrontation with China in outer-space, we have to pay close attention to and prepare for what would happen.
(China Daily 02/13/2001)