Since the days of Jiang Zemin, military-strategic Chinese. guidelines have emphasized the requirement that the People's Liberation Army focus oncomputerization as a key component of their modernization efforts. The essential requirement for the information is not lost on the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who is making a determined effort to ensure that the modernization of PLA is complete by 2035 and that it translates into a "world class" force capable of fighting and winning wars anywhere by 2050. Spatial ability and "space power" are central components of PLA information and China is developing sophisticated thinking and capacity To wage war in space.
The key document that drives the modernization agenda is China's. White book of defense 2015, which states that: "The outer space has become a dominant height in international strategic competition, the affected countries are developing their forces and space instruments, and the first signs of the use of weapons in outer space have appeared."
The 2015 white paper also led to the formation of the PLA Strategic Support Force, which was created as part of a major reorganization of the EPL. The PLASSF focuses on the functions of space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum in Chinese military operations, and reflexes Make more in space as a priority for the PLA. It is the PLASSF that leads the development of China's military space doctrine, including the doctrine of counter-space PLA, while the PLA Rocket Force controls anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) deployed operationally.
China tests of ASAT, including, in particular, the Trial of January 2007 that destroyed an inactive Chinese satellite in low Earth orbit (LEO), has transformed the nature of the space domain. It is no longer a peaceful sanctuary that sits on terrestrial geopolitical rivalries, space is rapidly becoming a contested battle domain. China has conducted numerous tests of counter-space capabilities in recent years, including delivery systems of direct ascent for kinetic destruction ASAT, potentially out of geostationary orbit, and more sophisticated co-orbital adequate capabilities for "soft destruction" systems and intelligence gathering.
Other nations are responding to China's actions. 2008 we "Frost burned" demonstration of an ASAT capability and, more recently, the decision of the Trump administration to establish a US space force they are driven by the counter-space capabilities of China (and Russia). IndiaHe tested his own ASAT last month, mainly in response to the threat posed by Chinese capabilities.
China has not formally launched a doctrine of space warfare and, instead, repeats international affairs. rhetoric affirming that "it always adheres to the principle of the use of outer space for peaceful purposes and opposes armamentization or an arms race in outer space". This bland statement contrasts with the thinking about space warfare that comes from Chinese military institutions and academies.
A recent evaluation The global counterpart capacity of Secure World Foundation cites primary sources within China's space policy community that constantly emphasize the need for the PLA to control space and deny access to opponents. The report suggests that China has a requirement to achieve space superiority, defined as "guaranteeing one's ability to use space while limiting, weakening and destroying the adversary's space forces." They point out that Chinese thinkers argue that "who controls the space will control the Earth".
The analysis gives us an idea of how Chinese military analysts think space war could be. China would strive to attack first at the campaign and tactical level to maintain the space battlefield initiative. The intention of the army should be to "hide the concentration of its forces and make a first decisive attack on a large scale." That sounds like the classic concept of a "Pearl Harbor space" that is designed to eliminate The C4ISR satellites (command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) based on the space of the United States and its allies, leaving its ground forces deaf, mute and blind, and unable to carry out joint and integrated operations based on information.
China pursues a two-way construction approach successive generations of satellites more able to support the PLA in the achievement of information and the development of a set of counter-space capabilities to eliminate their opponents. The space is vital for the ability of the PLA to conduct long distance access / denial of area (A2 / AD) operations against the US. UU And allied forces. Without Chinese satellites for long-range communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and precise navigation and synchronization, your A2 / AD capabilities simply will not be effective. At the same time, counter-space capabilities can function as part of A2 / AD by threatening the vital capabilities of Western C4ISR before or at the start of a major military conflict.
China's ASAT test in 2007 generated a massive cloud of space debris that attracted international outrage. Since then, Beijing has focused on exploring the potential of more sophisticated orbit and soft kill technologies. A report prepared in 2015 for the Economic and Security Review Commission. US-China pointGreater emphasis on China's ASAT and counter-space efforts on targeted energy weapons, electronic warfare, jamming and dazzling, as well as cyber attack methods such as identity theft, rather than physical destruction.
This evaluation is reinforced both by the analysis of the Safe World Foundation and by the Center for Strategic and International Studies & # 39; Space threat assessment 2019. China continues to develop coorbital systems that could fulfill an orbital service or a spatial awareness role of the spatial situation. They could also potentially apply to an ASAT role using soft removal mechanisms, such as blocking.
It is likely that the military space capability of the EPL is supported by increasingly sophisticated and capable satellite networks, including, in particular, the broader application of BeidouGlobal navigation system, which China is completing quickly. This will offer the PLA an alternative to the US GPS. UU In support of the joint war and the precision attack, and better support to the projection of power by the PLA Navy and the Air Force of the PLA in remote operations, such as in the Indian Ocean region.
Access to China's space will continue to be based on a space program led by the government led by the EPL and the National Space Administration of China. However, a Chinese commercial The space sector seems to be on the horizon, which could make China emulate the "Space 2.0" approach that has led to the likes of SpaceX. That could mean the development of space plane technology and, potentially, reusable rocket systems that would facilitate China's access and use of space more quickly. Chinese counter-space capabilities would benefit from the dual-purpose application of ballistic missile defense and the potential of co-orbit systems capable of proximity and encounter operations.
In part 2, I will consider where China's human space activities fit into military space power, including the astro-strategic importance of the Moon as "high ground" for the 2030s and beyond, and point out the implications for the form of the future war.
This article by Malcolm Davis appeared for the first time in The Strategic Policy Insitute's The Strategist in 2019.
Malcolm Davis is a senior analyst at ASPI.