US to reassess China space ties

The two had agreed to explore the possibility of co-operation over civilian space projects.

    Over the past several years, Nasa's "bilateral interactions" with China has been very limited [AP]
    The test caused concern among a number of countries, including Japan and the US, and made China the third country in the world to down an object in space, after the US and the former Soviet Union.
     
    The US says it is concerned the test has scattered debris in space that could endanger the manned International Space Station and other orbiting satellites.
     
    The State Department said the test was inconsistent with an agreement between George Bush, the American president, and Hu Jintao, the Chinese president made during Hu's visit to the US last April.
     
    The two had agreed to explore the possibility of co-operation over civilian space projects, including exploration of the moon.
     
    "Immediately following China's Asat test, the concerns we raised with China included our view that the test was inconsistent with the two presidents' agreement to seek co-operation in the civil space area," Vasquez said.
     
    Satellite launch
     
    But Jason Sharp, spokesman for Nasa, said: Over the past several years, Nasa's "bilateral interactions" with China had been very limited because of "government-to-government issues."
     

    "No bilateral discussions were ongoing or planned either before or after China's anti-satellite test"

    Jason Sharp,
    spokesman for Nasa

    He said: "No bilateral discussions were ongoing or planned either before or after China's anti-satellite test."
     
    The White House said recently the US believed that China's development and testing of such weapons was "inconsistent with the constructive relationship that Bush and Hu had outlined, including civil space cooperation," Sharp said.
     
    Vasquez's comments come as China launched an experimental navigation satellite into space early on Saturday.
     
    The Beidou, or "Big Dipper", satellite was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launching Centre in Sichuan province in southwest China aboard a Long March 3-A rocket and successfully placed into its planned orbit, Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, reported.
     
    Sean McCormack, a state department spokesman, said that the US had told China, "to come clean fully in public as to the data concerning this test, what the motivations behind the test were, what their plans were for future such tests, and how this squared with their stated policy of not wanting to militarize space."
     
    China spends $500m a year on its space programmes, according to official figures. Nasa's proposed budget for 2007 is nearly $17bn.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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