China calls on US to provide data on satellite shootdown

China called on the United States Thursday to provide information about its shooting down of a defunct US spy satellite and voiced caution about the potential international consequences.

China calls on US to provide data on satellite shootdown
"China is continuing to closely follow the possible harm caused by the US action to outer space security and relevant countries," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said when asked for a reaction to the shootdown.

"China further requests that the US fulfil its international obligations in earnest and promptly provide to the international community the necessary information and relevant data... so that relevant countries can take precautions."

A US Navy cruiser hit a defunct US spy satellite with a single missile late Wednesday in a successful interception 133 nautical miles in space over the Pacific, the US Defense Department said.

US officials insisted the satellite was shot down to stop it from tumbling to Earth and potentially posing a risk to humans.

But the operation had raised concerns elsewhere that the United States was trying to test an anti-satellite weapon, amid rising global tensions about the militarisation of space.

Russia's defence ministry said on Sunday that the US plans looked like a veiled weapons test and an "attempt to move the arms race into space."

However, the Chinese reaction on Thursday to the incident appeared less confrontational than earlier in the week.

On Monday, Liu said the government was "highly concerned over the developments" and had asked the United States to "ensure that the security of outer space and relevant countries will not be undermined."

China came under similar pressure last year when it used a ballistic missile to destroy one of its ageing weather satellites, becoming only the third nation after the United States and the former Soviet Union to do so.

The ability to shoot down satellites is seen by many analysts as crucial in future conflicts due to the dependence of modern military equipment on satellite-based communications.

Admiral Timothy Keating, head of the US Pacific command, on Thursday acknowledged similarities with the Chinese shootdown but said the US one was significantly different because the United States gave public notice first.

"They just shot, they didn't tell anybody about it," he said of the Chinese.

Adding to the tensions, Russia and China last week unveiled plans for a new treaty banning the deployment of any weapons in space -- a move the United States rejected as "impossible".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Şubat 2008, 14:20