US Space Force can’t dominate outer space

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence waves to guests after speaking during the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity Summit in Manhattan, New York, U.S., July 31, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

US Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday at the Pentagon that the US intends to create a sixth branch of the US military by 2020 known as the Space Force. Pence said China and Russia have been conducting highly sophisticated on-orbit activities that could pose unprecedented new dangers to US space systems. US President Trump tweeted later “Space Force all the way!”

The new Space Force project has broader implications in comparison to Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars initiative. The mission of the new branch is unique among the world’s military forces. Its ambition is not only to strike a ground target from space or hit an enemy missile, but also to control the entire outer space, thus establishing absolute US hegemony and the ability to conquer other major countries from outer space.

Until today, outer space has been a place of peace. The UN resolutely opposes the militarisation of outer space and all countries have remained constrained in terms of their research of military space systems. By establishing a Space Force the US has started an outer space arms race.

The US possesses the most advanced technology in terms of space research. Its space vehicles have travelled further into deep space than those of any other country. Washington has advantages in militarising outer space.

However, other countries will not sit on their hands. What the US fails to achieve on land, sea and air cannot be achieved in outer space. In the wake of the Cold War, the US has maintained its absolute advantage in national strength yet it still feels insecure. The kind of security Washington is pursuing does not exist. Its pursuit of absolute security only increases instability in the world and creates an unfamiliar security dilemma with greater risks and uncertainties.

Citing China and Russia for reasons to build a Space Force will only serve to pressure the two countries to take relevant countermeasures to protect their outer space assets.

From China’s perspective, we recommend the country immediately conduct a strategic assessment on how a US Space Force will impact China’s national security. China’s strategy should be based on two principles.

First, China must abandon all illusions and resolutely develop its capabilities to resist US hegemony in outer space. We must attach great importance to this move and recognize that it is a matter of life and death for China’s future development. Outer space is the future of humanity and China needs its own key to outer space. Making sure that outer space is not dominated by the US is the common interest of all people.

Second, we should not get involved in a comprehensive outer space arms race with the US as doing so is not in line with China’s national strength. We should develop a trump card to form an asymmetrical deterrence, a move to first establish a security bottom line so that Washington dares not launch an outer space offensive on China. This work must be carried out with speed and China should provide prioritised financial support. Other outer space construction should be planned in accordance with China’s economic development.

No power in the world can stop the US from making the extreme decision. What each country can do is to form its own response. The US move will deeply impact the future of humanity and Washington bears the responsibility of not leading human civilisation astray.

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