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Friday, January 19, 2007

China silent on satellite killer

AFP: China's defence ministry has refused to confirm it conducted a test in space of a satellite-killing weapon, following US claims that the controversial event occurred last week.

"We are not aware of that test. Usually the media writes stories on hearsay evidence, we don't have time to verify such stories," a spokesman with the ministry's foreign affairs department told AFP, refusing to comment further.

A senior White House official, requesting anonymity, confirmed on Thursday a report in Aviation Week magazine that US spy agencies had concluded that China conducted a successful test of a satellite-killing weapon on January 11.

The test reportedly knocked out an ageing Chinese weather satellite with a "kinetic kill vehicle" launched on board a ballistic missile.

The impact occurred at more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth.

The White House said on Thursday that the United States, Australia and Canada had expressed concern to China over the test.

"The United States believes China's development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area," said national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

"We and other countries have expressed our concern to the Chinese," Johndroe said.

An Australia's foreign ministry spokeswoman said Friday that China's ambassador in Canberra had been summoned to explain the test.

China's foreign ministry did immediately reply on Friday to requests for comment on the issue.

Japan has also voiced concerns over the Chinese test and has sought explanations from Beijing.

"From the view of the peaceful use of space and international security, we naturally have concerns about it," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, the government spokesman, told a news conference.

He said Japan was asking the Chinese foreign ministry to explain details about the test, in which the US confirmed a magazine report that a ballistic missile successfully destroyed an old Chinese weather satellite.

Japan has recently been improving relations with China, which were badly strained under former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi who repeatedly visited a controversial shrine to Japanese war dead.

But Japan has repeatedly expressed unease about China's rapidly growing military spending and urged the European Union not to lift its ban on arms exports to Beijing.
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