US concerned over China growing capabilities

Washington: The US has said China could use it`s growing space-related capabilities to gain diplomatic advantage over other nations, "possibly" against America`s national security interests as well.

"China`s modernised military, and especially its space-related capabilities, could be put to use in ways that increase China`s ability to gain diplomatic advantage or resolve disputes in its favour, and possibly against US national security interests," said a US report.

The National Security Report on Revising US Export Controls on Satellites, by the State Department and the Department of Defence, said China was developing and testing several new classes and variants of "offencive" missiles, upgrading older missile systems, and developing space-based methods to counter ballistic missile defences of the US and its allies, including anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons.

"China produces a broad range of sophisticated ballistic, cruise, air-to-air, and surface-to-air missiles. Many of China`s final assembly and rocket motor production facilities have received upgrades over the past few years, likely increasing production capacity. In addition to supplying China`s military, complete systems and missile technologies could be marketed for export. China`s space launch vehicle industry is expanding to support satellite launch services and the manned space program," it said.

Foreign and indigenous systems give China the capability to "jam" common satellite communications bands and Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) receivers, specifically, the Chinese navigation constellation, the report said.

The People`s Liberation Army (PLA) is acquiring a range of technologies to improve China`s space and counter-space capabilities, it said, adding that a PLA analysis of US and coalition military operations reinforced the importance of operations in space to enable informationalised warfare.

The analysis claimed that "space is the commanding point for the information battlefield. Battlefield monitor and control, information communications, navigation and position guidance all rely on satellites and other sensors."

One example of how China`s advance in space-related capabilities could directly harm US national security interests is in the Taiwan Strait, the report said and added that Beijing could use a variety of "disruptive, punitive, or lethal space capabilities" in a limited action against Taiwan.

"Limited Short Range Ballistic Missile attacks against, and precision strikes directed by, imaging and navigation satellites on Taiwan`s radar sites, missiles, and space-assets could be designed to degrade its defences or neutralise its leadership.
The PLA builds capabilities aimed not only at Taiwan, but also to deter, delay, or deny possible US or allied intervention in a cross-Strait conflict. China`s ASAT programs have significant implications for anti-access/area-denial efforts against the United States in Taiwan Strait contingencies," it said.

The report alleged that China is on a fast track to advance its space capabilities, but most of its effort is through reverse engineering. "China`s capability for overall space systems design and integration relies heavily on foreign designs obtained through reverse engineering," it said.

It is widely known that China pursues foreign technologies, in part, for the purpose of reverse engineering or to supplement indigenous military modernisation efforts, the report said in a special annex attached to it.

"China`s continuing efforts to acquire US military and dual-use technologies are enabling China`s science and technology base to advance its defence industrial capability and to improve its technological acumen in areas critical to the development of military weapons and communications systems," it said.

China utilises a large, well-organised network of enterprises, defence factories, affiliated research institutes, and computer network operations to facilitate the collection of sensitive information and export-controlled technology, as well as basic research and science that support US defence system modernisation, the report said.

According to the report, many of the organisations comprising China`s military-industrial complex have both military and civilian research and development functions. This network of government-affiliated companies and research institutes enables the PLA to access sensitive and dual-use technologies under the guise of civilian research and development.

The enterprises accomplish this through technology conferences and symposia, legitimate contracts and joint commercial ventures, partnerships with foreign firms, and joint development of specific technologies, it said.

In the case of key national security technologies, controlled equipment, and other materials not readily obtainable through commercial means or academic exchange, China has utilised its intelligence services and employed other illicit approaches that circumvent or outright violate US laws and export control regulations, the report alleged.

"For example, in September 2010, Chi Tong Kuok was convicted for conspiracy to export US military encryption technology illegally to China via Hong Kong. The relevant technology included encryption, communications equipment, and GPS equipment used by US and NATO forces," said the report.

"Economic espionage, supported by extensive open-source research, computer network exploitation, and targeted intelligence operations also enables China to obtain technologies to supplement indigenous military modernisation efforts".

It said official agencies have identified at least 26 major cases since 2006 linking China to the acquisition of controlled power amplifiers with military applications, space launch technical data and services, Delta IV rockets, information related to cruise missile design, and military grade accelerometers.

"China`s continuing efforts to acquire US military and dual-use technologies are enabling China`s science and technology base to diminish the US technological edge in areas critical to the development of weapons and communications systems. Additionally, the technologies China has acquired could be used to develop more advanced technologies by shortening Chinese R&D cycles," it added.