A U.S. military leader warned Friday that China is continuing to build capabilities that potentially threaten American assets in space.
Commander of U.S. Space Command Gen. James Dickinson told reporters that China continues to “build capabilities that, really quite frankly, hold most of our assets at risk in the space domain.”
“I’m seriously focused on our pacing challenge, China,” he said.
“The unified stance of our allies and partners is critical in countering the coercion and subversion that threatens the international rules-based order here in the Indo-Pacific and beyond,” Dickinson noted.
The head of American military operations in space said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had further shown space to be a “contested domain that must be protected.”
In 2003, China became the third government to send an astronaut into orbit on its own and its program – run by the People’s Liberation Army – has made strides since.
Last month, China launched the last of three modules for its own space station and has rovers on the moon and Mars. It is also planning a crewed lunar mission during this decade.
China has drawn widespread criticism over recent years from the industry and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson over its handling of falling debris.
Beijing believes that “space is a very important piece to not only their economic or the global economic environment, but also the military environment, so we continue to watch that very closely as they continue to increase capabilities,” Dickinson said.
Previously, senior defense officials warned that China and Russia are building capabilities to take out the satellite systems that underpin U.S. intelligence, military communications and early warning networks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.