WASHINGTON The U.S. military painted China on
Tuesday as posing a growing threat to the United States and
others in space and cyberspace.
China is "aggressively" honing its ability to shoot down
satellites along with other space and counter-space
capabilities, said Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Horne of the U.S.
Such know-how has big implications for Beijing's potential
to curb access in the Taiwan Straits "and well beyond," he told
the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a
congressionally created advisory group.
Horne, deputy head of the Strategic Command's joint
component for space, said recent Chinese People's Liberation
Army writings suggested China might target an enemy's spy
satellites along with navigation and early-warning spacecraft
"to blind and deafen."
China's unannounced destruction of one of its own defunct
weather satellites in January 2007 showed the PLA's ability to
attack satellites operating in low-Earth orbit, he said.
The United States and the old Soviet Union demonstrated
such anti-satellite capabilities of their own, initially in the
1980s. The Chinese embassy did not return a call seeking
Horne did not spell out the implications for possible U.S.
responses to any Chinese attack on Taiwan but said the United
States must "proactively protect our space capabilities."
Among arms makers eyeing this market are Lockheed Martin,
Boeing and Northrop Grumman, the Pentagon's top three
contractors by sales.
Beijing regards Taiwan, a self-ruled island of 23 million
people, as a breakaway province to be brought back to the fold,
by force if necessary.
Another Strategic Command officer described cyber attacks
as perhaps the most significant 21st century threat and said
China was boosting its capability to carry them out.
Col. Gary McAlum of the command's Joint Task Force for
Global Network Operations said several Chinese advances had
surprised U.S. defence and intelligence officials.
He cited a new report by Kevin Coleman of the Technolytics
Institute, a McMurray, Pennsylvania, consultancy, as saying
China aims to achieve global "electronic dominance" by 2050,
including the ability to disrupt information infrastructures.
"I think we could discuss that date offline," McAlum told
the commissioners, seeming to imply he thought China might get
there sooner than mid-century. Coleman is a former chief
strategist of the Netscape division of America Online Inc.
One U.S. expert countered, in a telephone interview, that
it would be odd to expect China to sit still if it perceived a
threat to its strategic weapons and communications in any
"It is unreasonable to think that Beijing will permanently
accept vulnerability," said David Lampton of the Johns Hopkins
School of Advanced International Studies and author of the new
book "The Three Faces of Chinese Power: Might, Money, and
In a third presentation to the commissioners, a State
Department official described China's nonproliferation record
Chinese companies have kept on shipping weapons to Iran,
despite evidence Tehran is supplying insurgents in Iraq and
Islamist groups, said Patricia McNerney, principal deputy
assistant secretary for international security and
But she praised two big Chinese companies sanctioned
repeatedly in the past by the United States for alleged
violations of international arms-export pacts.
McNerney said the United States had conferred with the two
-- China North Industries Corp, or NORINCO, and China Great
Wall Industries Co. Their response has been "very encouraging,"
"Both companies have adopted comprehensive internal
compliance programs and are implementing policies to ensure
that inadvertent transactions do not occur," she testified.
NORINCO, for example, had committed to not selling arms to
North Korea and Iran and claims to have turned down more than
$100 million (50 million pounds) in potential contracts with
such governments, McNerney added.
(Editing by Andre Grenon)