Thursday, November 5, 2009

China's foreign ministry disavows PLA comments about space militarization

(AFP) - China on Thursday denied it would ever participate in a space arms race, disavowing comments by a top general who said Chinese armed forces should prepare for the militarization of outer space.

"I want to point out China has all along upheld the peaceful use of outer space. We oppose the weaponization of outer space or a space arms race," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters.

"China has never and will not participate in an outer space arms race in any form. The position of China on this point remains unchanged," he said.

Ma was asked to respond to comments this week by Air Force Commander Xu Qiliang of the People's Liberation Army, who was quoted by state-run media as calling the militarization of space an "historical inevitability."

"We must build an outer space force that conforms with the needs of our nation's development, the demands of space age development," Xu was quoted as saying in Monday's edition of the People's Liberation Army Daily.

Xu's comments sparked speculation of a possible shift in China's position.

General Kevin Chilton, who heads the US Strategic Command, said Tuesday he wanted more information on China's position when asked about Xu's remarks.

China's ambitions in Space "is an area that we'll want to explore and understand exactly what China's intentions are here, why they might want to go in that direction and what grounds might accommodate a different direction," he said.

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