China's Evolving Space Capabilities: Implications for U.S. Interests   [open pdf - 1MB]

"The People's Republic of China (PRC) has made significant advances in its space program and is emerging as a space power. Senior leaders have established space as a national priority and are allocating significant resources toward enhancing the PRC's space-related technology base. With preservation of its monopoly on power as an overriding goal, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) bolsters its legitimacy through achievements in space. Policymakers view space power as one aspect of a broad international competition in comprehensive national strength and science and technology (S&T). Investments in space also serve as a stimulant for economic growth. The manned program in particular enhances CCP prestige and draws international attention to the country's expanding technology base. Without a clearly defined civilian space program, such as that managed by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the PRC (hereafter also referred to as 'China') integrates civil and military uses of space. China's space ambitions are in part peaceful in nature. Yet technologies can also be used with ill-intent. The PLA is rapidly improving its space and counterspace capabilities in order to advance CCP interests and defend against perceived challenges to sovereignty and territorial integrity. Because Taiwan's democratic system of government -- an alternative to mainland China's authoritarian model -- presents an existential challenge to the CCP, the PLA relies on military coercion to compel concessions on sovereignty. Although other interests divert attention and resources, Taiwan remains the principle illustrative scenario guiding the PLA's military ambitions in space. Taiwan is a core interest of the United States. As such, the United States should maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan."

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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission: http://www.uscc.gov/
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