|ORIENTAL SATELLITE KILLER: CASE NO.1
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Kislyakov)
Had a Bit of Fun? Time to Stop ...
Is there anyone who can honestly say that he had never committed mischief
as a child? I don’t think such a paragon of virtue would be easy to
But my mind refuses to accept the verdict of Major-General Vyacheslav
Fateyev, a Russian military expert, who described the recent Chinese tests
of anti-satellite weapons as an “act of hooliganism.”
Early hints of the upcoming tests appeared in the central Chinese press
last August. Experts from the state defense university, writing in the
Renmin Ribao newspaper, said that the People’s Liberation Army of China
should be ready not only to protect the country’s territorial integrity,
but also to fight any potential threat from space.
It is out of the question that the Chinese watchdog agencies suffered a
lapse and allowed someone to update the national defense doctrine, which
dealt only with operations inside the home territory.
So it seems likely that the January 11 incident had nothing to do with
U.S. space initiatives – the national space policy and the January space
operations doctrine. Beijing has long been playing a lone hand in space,
little concerned with what others may think.
Rather, hooliganism is the operative word in describing some provisions of
the American documents, in particular sections dealing with domination in
space and keeping “undesirable elements” out. But this is akin to a
road prank by a billionaire actor. If there is no serious damage done, the
popular idol has nothing to worry about.
But the “accident” did take place – China was the first to suit the
action to the word, although it did no harm, it seems, apart from a strong
ricochet effect on Russia.
If we take a closer look at the “parties to the traffic accident,” the
first two – China and the U.S. – have in fact benefited from it,
profiting from insurance, so to speak.
The former, possessing impressive physical potential, has handily
demonstrated its ability to undertake all kinds of space initiatives and a
full spectrum of military programs, including anti-missile defense.
Besides, Beijing will now be much more selective in its choice of
The Americans, for their part, will now be implementing any space weapons
programs with a clear conscience, again showing little regard for anybody
Despite the risk of being branded as unpatriotic, I will venture to say
that it is not possible to talk of Russia’s independent space effort in
all areas at once. Moscow has to look to the East and to the West. This
balancing act with an eastern prop has given Moscow more leeway in dealing
with the Americans: Russia’s standing partners in the ISS manned
Current close cooperation with China on the existing 38 projects, plus 20
or so in the future, is unlikely to improve the strained Russian-American
relations in space. The Russian defense minister appears to have acted
wisely saying, to everybody’s surprise, that the Chinese tests “had no
It was just petty hooliganism in orbit.