The Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily Online had a high old time on Tuesday mocking President Donald Trump’s proposal to create a “space force” that will be “separate but equal” from the U.S. Air Force, following up with a hypocritical little sermon about the militarization of space.
The Twitter jokes copied and pasted by the People’s Daily were not without their charms:
But then came the wildly hypocritical lecture about militarizing space:
The proposal to create the world’s first space force is troubling for many reasons. Establishing a space force will increase competition between major countries, upset the military balance, and weaken the security of other countries. In short, the US move to militarize space is not conducive to lasting peace and security.
The proposal shows that the United States is hell-bent on trying to dominate all domains, despite the fact that the United States is one of 105 parties to sign an international treaty banning the militarization of space.
Humor can be found in Trump’s proposal to create a space force. But the goal to have “American dominance in space” is a threat to world peace. As a powerful country with a tremendous amount of resources, the current US administration should do more to enhance cooperation in all domains rather than increase the likelihood of a conflict between the great powers.
To be sure, the space force concept is controversial within both the Pentagon and the civilian U.S. government. It is absurd to pretend that President Trump originated the concept or initiated the militarization of space.
For one thing, the U.S. Air Force already has a Space Command that handles orbital military issues, and there have been proposals under previous administrations to spin it off into a separate branch of the military. It may still be an idea whose time has not come, but it is not a new idea.
It is not a new idea for China, either. China has done extensive work on anti-satellite weapons, including ground-launched missiles and armed satellites designed to destroy or impede other satellites.
Chinese spokesmen always talk about the entirely peaceful exploration of space, but the People’s Liberation Army views space as a vital theater of operations in any conflict with the United States, placing a high priority on countering America’s orbital communications and surveillance capabilities. A great deal of China’s ostensibly scientific and commercial space hardware is dual-use, and the military applications are considerably more plausible than the stated peaceful applications.
Russia has also long worked to militarize space, and it is not really a three-way contest between the global superpowers anymore; the technology needed for disrupting satellite communications at the terrestrial level is not difficult to acquire, and it is not easy to say how many nations are capable of attacking targets in orbit.
“While we’re not at war in space, I don’t think we can say we are exactly at peace either. With rapidly growing threats to our space systems, as well as the threat of a degraded space environment, we must prepare for a conflict that extends into space,” the deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Vice Admiral Charles Richard, warned in March 2017.