Archive for the ‘China’ Category

A groan-inducing article at The Diplomat asks the intentionally provocative question ‘Is the U.S. Starting an Asian Space Race?”

The answer, although you would never gather it from the article’s tone and presentation, is a resounding ‘no.’

The article uses the X-37, the re-usable space platform that looks like a quarter-scale space shuttle and launched earlier in the year, as a springboard to ominously suggest that such “ambiguous” U.S. space activities may “pose a strategic risk.” (more…)


China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation

One thing about China: they set their dates and seem to be able to stick to them. Or even beat them.

The satellite, to launch in late 2011, is identified as ZY-3, a high-resolution, stereoscopic mapping satellite.

The described missions are “exclusively for civilian purpose.”  If true, the ZY-3 could be used to support disaster prevention and mitigation (something every earthquake-prone sovereign needs), water conservation (conserving clean water is something China needs), agriculture, and forestry.

Still, would anyone be really surprised if there were defense needs that could be satisfied with something like the ZY-3?

China Attempts To Rival GPS

Posted: August 2, 2010 in Beidou, China, Compass, Free-Riders, GPS

Five down and thirty to go.

That’s the status of China’s GPS-like constellation called Compass, or by its indiginous name, Beidou.

Why go to all the trouble of having your own positioning, navigation, and timing system when you can piggyback on GPS?

China has the same reason as the Russians and the EU.  They don’t want to be dependent on the U.S. for something that can be switched off (even if such an act would entail a tightwire walk over a worldly political minefield).

Does anyone much think about the parallels/irony between the Russians and the fuels used to power and heat much of Europe?

Or the fact that much of the EU piggybacks on U.S. provided security?

Space Debris Is Not For Me

The Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos says China is the world’s leading space debris creator.

I’m assuming their calculations include China’s 2007 ASAT “test.”   If so, the Roscosmos assertion would be tough to deny.

The Washington Times and the Washington Post both report on Russian ‘compliance issues,’ regarding the 1991 version of START, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the international convention banning biological weapons.

Compliance issues is of course code for both purposeful cheating and inadvertent non-compliance.

Are these compliance issues serious?  Well, the headline in the Post says this could sink new START.

I expect the script from the arms control industry to be something like  “I’m shocked, shocked to find that non-compliance is being accused of the Russians!  People need to get out of their Cold War mentality.  These are minor and easily explained issues.”

Hmm.  Didn’t we just catch, trade, and release a dozen Russian spies?

At what point is non-compliance considered cheating and based on outcomes, how much more serious is the later?

The way ahead for new START should be to perform due diligence, and to have full understanding and knowledge of the capabilities, limitations, and vulnerabilities associated with the treaty.  As it is, the tension in the political theater includes the significant treaty issues both of pace and content.

The Times article goes w-a-y further into nuclear proliferation issues regarding North Korea, Iran, Syria, China, Russia, and Myanmar AKA Burma.

Anti-nuclear proliferation versus arms control appears to be where the real security issue–right now–most seriously lies.

Between 1000 and 1400 Chinese missiles are aimed at Taiwan today.  Before long, that number will increase to 2000.

China is on track to be able and destroy 90 percent of Taiwan’s key assets.

Of course, China says their military build-up is purely defense in nature.  I guess the best defense is a good offense?

No wonder Taiwan is going to want to purchase more U.S. weapons.  Missile defense has to be at the top of the list.

Read the full deal at the Global Security Newswire.

Why do we have treaties?  There are a number of possible answers.  They could be used to codify things we were going to do anyway.  They could be used to build relationships with other nations.  They could be used to improve security or trade, or as a symbol of shared values.

Does the new START do any of these?  Yes.  Should it be ratified accordingly? According to Senator Richard Lugar, yes.

The new START is addressed in an interview with National Journal (posted by the Global Security Newswire) with Senator Lugar.

The interview is Lugar’s endorsement for new START, which he describes as modest.  For those who have been exposed to the Senator on arms control issues, he answers the questions true to form.  One question, “Do you support the so-called race to zero nuclear weapons?” gets a lengthy response, but the “up or down” intent of the question is ignored.

Late in the interview, Senator Lugar tells us that “Russia’s tactical (nuclear) weapons are not a direct threat to the United States or our NATO allies.”  Who are they a direct threat to?  Lugar says a “large percentage” of the Russian tactical nuclear weapons are deployed along its border with China.  While this may be true, these weapons can of course be moved around.  Like to NATO borders.

In fact, tactical nuclear weapons should be of a much larger concern than START itself as just these sorts of weapons are most easily stolen, moved, and transferred.  Why weren’t tactical nuclear weapons addressed?  Because the Russians don’t want to address the issue.