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First Control the Heavens,
Then What?

by James W. Bannister, B.A., LL.B.

One thing must be understood about the rulers of Communist China. They are expert liars! What we Westerners don’t understand, though, is the Chinese way of lying. They tell us black is white, but do so in such an indirect, disarming, seemingly reasonable way that we are tempted to believe them. Don’t be fooled!

This week Beijing had to say something about an event that the world couldn’t help but notice — a missile test in which the Chinese shot down one of their old weather satellites. “What are you doing?!” the Americans and Japanese asked. After nearly two weeks of silence, the Communists admitted what they had done, but said they are against an arms race in space. Don’t be fooled!

“China has opposed the weaponization of space and any arms race,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a news conference, adding the test was not targeted toward any country. He went on to say he knows of no plan (my emphasis) for a second test. "What needs to be stressed is that China has always advocated the peaceful use of space," he said. There it is — the big lie!

Please notice that Mr. Liu didn’t say there is no plan. He just said he didn’t know of any!

In fact the Chinese test represents the beginning of an arms race in space. According to the editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, the Chinese test is "an overtly military, very provocative event that cannot be spun any other way (my emphasis). So a bald assessment of that is that it's a big fat challenge."

Aviation Week, which first reported the test, said the satellite was hit by a kinetic kill vehicle launched from a ballistic missile. Analysts said the test raises the possibility that American spy satellites could be shot down, thus threatening U.S. defense systems.

Of course China is neither the first nor the only nation to have this technology. The U.S. military has had the capability to shoot down satellites since the 1980s. In October, President George W. Bush signed an order asserting the United States' right to deny adversaries access to space for hostile purposes.

So, no matter what they say about “the peaceful uses of space,” the Chinese are clearly challenging U.S. military predominance which — we like to think — makes the world a safer place for democracy, progress and prosperity.

Speaking of prosperity, there’s something else the Chinese must have been thinking about. A recent earthquake near Taiwan — which the Chinese claim is part of China — disrupted telephone and internet communications for weeks. Because satellites are used to replay phone calls and data and to map weather systems, potential conflicts in space would put much of the industrialized world's economies at risk.

Control the skies and you can control the land below. Control the heavens and you can control the earth. That is the Chinese plan. Don’t be fooled!