The Chinese Threat in Space

The Chinese military, which is rapidly increasing its capabilities in space, views conflict in space as inevitable and is actively working to counter a US supremacy in that realm. China has completed 26 space launches since 2006 and is focused on enhancing its space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability, said Kevin Pollpeter, a senior research analyst at Defense Group, Inc., during a Nov. 3 Mitchell Institute event in Arlington, Va. China has followed recent US conflicts closely and its doctrine has evolved as a result. “Without space you can’t conduct modern war,” Pollpeter said, noting the United States uses space-based assets for 70 to 80 percent of its ISR and 80 percent of its communications. In a possible conflict with the US, China likely would strike US space assets quickly to “create a window of opportunity” by slowing US intelligence gathering and decision making, said Pollpeter. To counter Chinese development, the US must prepare for possible attacks on its space assets while still working to control escalation between the two countries, he added. (See also China Releases White Paper on Military Strategy.)