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China to Project Power From Disputed Islands, U.S. Panel Says

  • Litany of perceived threats cited in annual report to Congress
  • China called `a less welcoming place for foreign companies'

China’s expansion of islands it claims in the South China Sea underscores that its “military modernization is challenging decades of U.S.-led peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region,” a commission created by the U.S. Congress said in its annual report.

The moves on the disputed islands are “all the more provocative because they are being outfitted with a range of military infrastructure from airstrips to artillery, which will enable China’s increasingly powerful navy and air force to project power deep into the South China Sea and beyond,” the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said in the report released Wednesday.

The panel’s annual reports are largely a litany of perceived threats from China, in keeping with its congressional mandate to report on the “national security implications” of U.S.-China trade and economic relations.

This year’s report said “China is a less welcoming place for foreign companies,” as a “series of newly adopted or proposed Chinese laws favors domestic companies and could seriously undermine the ability of U.S. and other foreign companies to do business there.”

China’s economic slowdown “may weaken public support for the government, which could encourage nationalist displays and adventurism abroad,” the panel said.

Anti-Satellite Weapons

Highlighting the advancement of a Chinese threat against a U.S. strength, the report disclosed that China’s military has conducted at least seven tests of anti-satellite weapons that ascend directly from Earth, the most recent in July 2014, firing an SC-19 missile that intercepted a suborbital target.

That test left no space debris, unlike the January 2007 test using an SC-19 against an aging Chinese weather satellite, which created more than 3,400 pieces of debris that continue “to threaten the space systems and astronauts of all nations,” according to the commission.

“China is pursuing a broad and robust array of counterspace capabilities, which includes direct-ascent anti-satellite missiles,” like the SC-19 and newer DN-2, “co-orbital anti-satellite systems, computer network operations, ground-based satellite jammers, and directed energy weapons,” it said.

The 2007 test demonstrated China’s ability “to strike satellites in low-Earth
orbit, where the majority of the United States’ approximately 549
satellites reside, including about 30 military and intelligence satellites,” it said.

The DN-2 missile “is technically capable of reaching U.S. Global Positioning System satellites” but “would likely be better suited for strikes on U.S.” intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance vehicles, it said. China could deploy this missile by 2020, the commission said.

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