China’s Space Ambitions – Joan Johnson-Freese

From Ifri’s Proliferation Papers:

On October 15, 2003 China became only the third nation capable of manned spaceflight, joining the United States and Russia in that exclusive club. Subsequently, its second manned launch, this time carrying two taikonauts, occurred on October 2, 2005. Then on January 11, 2007 China joined the United States and Russia in another exclusive club, becoming only the third nation to test an anti-satellite weapon (ASAT). Those two very different events indicate Chinese space activity involving a wide spectrum of capabilities. Capabilities are not especially hard to gauge; intentions, however, can be very difficult to discern and result in strategic miscalculations. Robert Jervis and others have also discussed the perils of ambiguity as related to security dilemmas, where a spiral of preparations and tensions are created when the protective actions of one state lead to reactive countermeasures by another state, potentially leading to conflict or even war. [Full Text]

Joan Johnson-Freese serves as Chair, Department of National Security Studies, at the U.S. Naval War College.

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