What The DoD Says About China’s Space and Nuclear Capabilities

Posted: August 25, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , , ,

annual reportThe first thing that caught my eye in the 2011 report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China was the cover, which says that it cost less than $74K to have prepared the report.  About a third of a man year to create a report that’s a 90-plus page annual deliverable to Congress which will be widely circulated?

Get real.cost

With that out of the way, let’s get down to the report:

In 2010, China conducted a national record 15 space launches. It also expanded its space-based intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, navigation, meteorological, and communications satellite constellations. In parallel, China is developing a multi-dimensional program to improve its capabilities to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by adversaries during times of crisis or conflict.

China is working to improve its access to space, enhance their space-delivered capabilities, and to limit the adversary’s use of space.  I’m shocked, shockedLet’s see what the space peace-cults have to say about that, if anything. 

And how about some information on the nuclear front?

China is modernizing its nuclear forces by adding more survivable delivery systems. In recent years, the road mobile, solid propellant CSS-10 Mod 1 and CSS-10 Mod 2 (DF-31 and DF-31A) intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) have entered service. The CSS-10 Mod 2, with a range in excess of 11,200 km, can reach most locations within the continental United States. China may also be developing a new road-mobile ICBM, possibly capable of carrying a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV).


China has made steady progress in recent years to develop offensive nuclear, space, and cyber warfare capabilities—the only aspects of China’s armed forces that are currently global in nature. In the case of cyber and space weapons, however, there is little evidence that China’s military and civilian leaders have fully thought through the global and systemic effects that would be associated with the employment of these strategic capabilities. Additionally, China is both qualitatively and quantitatively improving its strategic missile forces.

Wow.  I thought China did that minimum deterrence thing, but I guess the minimum is no longer the minimum (nor is it likely to be in the future).  And I would have thought they would be able to draw down their strategic missile forces given New START.  Oh snap, I forgot that’s a bilateral treaty which really only affects the U.S. anyway…

But let’s shift back to space:

In addition to the direct-ascent ASAT program, China is developing other kinetic and directed-energy (e.g., lasers, high-powered microwave, and particle beam weapons) technologies for ASAT missions. Foreign and indigenous systems give China the capability to jam common satellite communications bands and GPS receivers.

This means space warfare is an area of major concern (and that space weapons, whether space or earth delivered, are a subset of space warfare). 

And why develop those capabilities on your own if you can get someone else to front the research, development, testing, and engineering costs?

The [2008] DSS [Defense Security Service] report described China’s science and technology collection priorities as: guidance and control systems, advanced energy technologies, nanotechnology, space and counterspace systems, nuclear forces, innovative materials, aeronautics and astronautic mechanisms, computer-aided manufacturing and design, and information technologies. The PRC continues to target these technologies.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security and the Department of Justice identified at least 26 major cases since 2006 linking China to the acquisition of technologies and applications cited above, as well as to current and future warship technology, electronic propulsion systems, controlled power amplifiers with military applications, space launch technical data and services, C-17 aircraft, Delta IV rockets, infrared cameras, information related to cruise missile design, and military-grade accelerometers.

If all this sounds a bit alarming, just remember that China doesn’t see it the same way.  In fact, they’ve pulled out that reliable chestnut of comparison (for reference, the World English Dictionary says that ‘chestnut’ when used informally is an old or stale joke), the Cold War:

The report reflects a “Cold War mentality,” said Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington. “We hope the U.S. will take practical steps to work with China for stable and healthy military ties by following the spirit of mutual respect, mutual trust, reciprocity and mutual benefit,” he said.

Wang Chung was apparently not available for comment. 

It’s interesting that Wang attempts to put pin the rose for the security success/failure outcomes on the U.S.  And it’s also interesting that Congress doesn’t mandate a similar report every year for Germany.

Oh, and I guess Wang Chung is available after all…


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