The report identifies other military space powers, such as Russia, but it singles out China for its large investment in building and fielding robust space warfare capabilities designed to support Beijing’s drive to challenge American information superiority and achieve regional and global hegemony.
Beijing views reliance on foreign satellite capabilities, such as GPS navigation satellites, as facilitating foreign domination that must not be permitted to continue. Thus it has invested billions in its space programs, including 19 Beidou orbiting navigation satellites, with plans for 16 more that will assist the PLA in expanding its global presence and long-range strike weapons.
The Chinese military’s prime objective is to deny the US access to the Indo-Pacific region. Military operations supporting that goal would begin with attacks aimed at destroying and disrupting command and control capabilities, including “cyber and kinetic attacks on satellites and ground assets,” the report says.
While it has been quietly a space weapons program, Beijing continues to promote the notion that it believes only in using space for peaceful purposes. However, the creation of the new Strategic Support Force in late 2015 was a clear indication that the PLA is gearing up for cyber, electronic and space warfare in a future conflict.
The array of its space weapons is impressive. China currently deploys two mobile ground-based ASAT interceptor missiles systems and is working on two more larger and more advanced ASAT systems based on the use of four-stage mobile space launchers or intercontinental ballistic missiles, including the new large DF-41 ICBM.
“With this range of direct-ascent ASAT capabilities, China may be capable of using hit-to-kill technologies to target and destroy surveillance satellites in low earth orbit, GPS satellites in medium earth orbit, and early warning satellites in geosynchronous orbit,” the report says.
A Chinese official has threatened to stage EMP nuclear attacks in any future conflict over Taiwan, along with a space nuclear blast 700 miles to the east of Taiwan to keep US forces at bay.