After mocking President Donald Trump’s proposal for a dedicated “space force” branch of the U.S. military this week, China decided to become seriously alarmed by it, and Russia quickly followed suit.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday that China has “noted relevant reports” about Trump’s proposal.
“Outer space is all humanity’s property,” Geng pontificated. “China always advocates the peaceful use of outer space and opposes the placement of weapons and an arms race in outer space. In particular, we oppose turning outer space into a battlefield. We hope that all parties could work together to ensure that outer space will forever be peaceful and tranquil.”
It should be noted that the reporter who asked the question tangentially mentioned China’s own militarization of space and asked if Beijing would support an international convention banning military forces in space, but Geng unsurprisingly decided not to address those points.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry more aggressively declared that Trump is courting a “military confrontation in outer space.”
“The purpose of the instruction was described in very clear terms – dominance in space,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova huffed.
“A military confrontation in outer space could have the same destructive effects as the nuclear race into which the United States plunged the world after WWII,” she added.
Zakharova denied the Pentagon’s assertions that Russia is among the countries working on weapons that could attack the American satellite network.
“As for those who wish to know more about Russia’s military-space force, I’d like to stress that its nature is purely defensive. Our country is not interested in tackling any tasks in space with the use of attack weapons,” she claimed.
Contrary to Geng and Zakharova’s denials, China and Russia are indeed developing an arsenal of space weapons, as numerous reports over the years have shown. China has actually destroyed at least one satellite with a missile, demonstrated the ability to target satellites in the most common orbits, and conducted cyberattacks against American weather satellites. Russia successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon two months ago.
One of the arguments made in favor of the “space force” concept is that public attention has not been properly focused on the military threat posed by Russia and China in space, making it far too easy for spokespeople like Geng and Zakharova to deny their countries have space weapons programs.