China missile test disturbs Japan

Japan joins nations demanding explanation from Beijing.

    China announced a 14.7 per cent increase in
    military spending last year [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Liu Jianchao, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said that while he had read foreign reports of the test, he could not shed any light on their accuracy.
       
    "I can't say anything about the reports. I really don't know; I've only seen the foreign reports," he told Reuters news agency.

    "What I can say is that, as a matter of principle, China advocates the peaceful use of space and opposes the weaponisation of space, and also opposes any form of arms race," he said. "China will not participate in any kind of arms race in outer space."

    Australia also joined the chorus of nations opposing the test that the US says China conducted on January 11.

    Explanation demanded

    Alexander Downer, Australia’s foreign minister, called Fu Ying, Beijing's ambassador to Australia, for an explanation.
     
    "[shooting] down satellites in outer space is not consistent with ... the traditional Chinese position of opposition to the militarisation of outer space.''

    Alexander Downer, Australian foreign minister

    But so far, he said, "the answer from the foreign affairs people in China, including the ambassador in Canberra, is that they're not aware of the incident'.

    Downer added that "[shooting] down satellites in outer space is not consistent with ... the traditional Chinese position of opposition to the militarisation of outer space.''
     
    The test comes at a time when Japan has been trying to patch up relations with China that have been damaged by disputes over their wartime history.
     
    It is all but certain to add to Japanese concerns over its neighbour’s increased military spending.
     
    In March, China announced a 14.7 per cent rise in defence spending to $35.3 bn.
     
    Killing criticised

    The US criticised the satellite killing on Thursday.
     
    Gordon Johndroe, a National Security Council spokesman, said: "The US believes China's development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of co-operation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area." 
     
    Canada has also expressed concern over the test and South Korea and Britain are expected to express theirs, said a senior White House official, requesting anonymity.
     
    A key concern of the test is that debris could interfere with civilian and military satellite operations on which the West increasingly relies.
     
    On the day of the test, a US defence official said that the US was unable to communicate with an experimental spy satellite launched last year by the Pentagon's National Reconnaissance Office.
     
    However, there was no immediate indication that this was a result of the Chinese test.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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