By Ben Blanchard BEIJING, Reuters
China’s anti-satellite missile test in January sent a confusing message to the world about its military plans, the United States’ top military officer said on Friday, urging Beijing to be more open.
Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States would like to observe more Chinese exercises and suggested a hot line between the two militaries could be useful.
China shot down an aging weather satellite on Jan. 11, but waited more than a week before officially confirming it. The government denies the test could stoke an arms race in space, and repeated that it opposes using weapons in space.
Pace said he told his Chinese counterparts it was essential that China let the world know its military intentions.
“I used the example of the anti-satellite test as how sometimes the international community can be confused, because it was a surprise, and it wasn’t clear what their intent was,” he told a news conference during his first visit to China.
“And when things are not clear, and there are surprises, then it tends to confuse people and raise suspicions,” Pace added.
“You don’t have to agree or disagree with any particular country’s objective, but it’s very helpful to understand what those objectives are and why they’re going in that direction,” said Pace, who leaves China on Sunday.
But he said the Chinese had given him no further details on the test, nor had they said what their intention was in carrying it out.
Analysts say China could use its ability to down satellites to counter any spy satellite support that Washington might offer Taiwan if war were to break out between the self-ruled island and the mainland.