Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at a ceremony on July 30 officially commissioned China’s BeiDou-3 satellite navigation system. The constellation of satellites, which is now fully operational, was completed six months ahead of schedule.
Its deployment means that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is now in possession of an autonomous, global satellite navigation system to rival the US’ GPS, Russia’s Glonass and the EU’s Galileo.
Although Chinese officials have repeatedly sought to reassure the world that BeiDou-3 is primarily a civilian and commercial platform, US and European military experts beg to differ.
Teresa Hitchens, a senior research associate at the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies, has conducted an in-depth study into the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force.
According to Hitchens, one of the three small satellites launched into orbit by the PLA in 2013 was equipped with a robotic grappling arm capable of interfering with or even destroying other satellites.
From an early stage, Beijing sought to exploit space technology for its military value.
In 2014, the PLA’s in-house newspaper People’s Liberation Army Daily and Huabei People’s Militia, a monthly periodical published by the PLA’s then-Beijing Military Region Political Department, featured an identically worded paragraph, which proves China’s intention to militarize space:
“Whoever controls space occupies Earth’s commanding heights. Whoever occupies this commanding position will be able to gain the initiative during war.”
Additionally, the Pentagon’s 2015 annual report to the US Congress on China’s military power revealed that all civilian satellites which China has launched into orbit use technology that can support its military’s operations west of the first island chain to perform a range of military tasks including day and nighttime reconnaissance and the transmission of intelligence.
As the PLA is aware that mastering space would be key to winning wars, any communications, intelligence and navigation system based in space would be an important factor in the PLA’s joint war-fighting capability and its ability to achieve victory on the modern battlefield.
According to the Study Times, the newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Party School, the more than decade-long operations of the older BeiDou-1 system allowed the PLA to make significant advances in a number of areas, including conducting exercises, logistics, patrolling China’s borders, directing its forces into theaters of conflict and providing emergency disaster relief.
For example, during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, BeiDou-1 enabled the PLA to rapidly position troops for disaster relief.
With its increased scale and scope, BeiDou-3 would not be limited to providing civilian-based services, such as basic navigation, short message communication, and international search and rescue, as Beijing claims.
It would give the PLA the ability to carry out long-range weapons targeting and provide round-the-clock, all-weather global positioning and precision weapons guidance, and even allow the PLA to destroy the satellite technology of other nations.
Taiwan’s national defense and national security apparatus must research how the nation can deal with and prevent the PLA’s possible use of BeiDou-3’s military functions in its Taiwan Strait combat planning, which could include using it to completely destroy the Taiwanese military’s precision guidance and combat communications capabilities.
Yao Chung-yuan is an adjunct professor and former deputy director of the Ministry of National Defense’s strategic planning department.
Translated by Edward Jones
When I was in Ukraine filming for an upcoming documentary, I was surprised at how frequently my mind naturally tended to map Ukraine’s war experience onto Taiwan, where I have lived for the past 10 years. There are obvious parallels of an imperial nuclear superpower asserting itself over a smaller non-nuclear state, but there are also small mundane things that would impact everyday life. When I saw Ukrainian elderly people filling jugs of water at a church in sub-zero temperatures and hauling it back to their homes which might not have electricity, I imagined the difficulty of a Taiwanese senior
This is the Year of the Dragon. At the beginning of the year, the Chinese government announced that “dragon” is to be translated as long (龍), in a move meant to erase the supposed negative connotations of dragons. In many Western cultures, dragons are often seen as wicked or demonic. This is not just a mere linguistic adjustment. It is symbolic, representing a change in China’s current political culture. Under the overbearing leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), the Chinese government has been undergoing a cultural policy of “de-Westernization.” Although this change in semantics is just one of many
An online petition started by a doctor in Taichung called on lawmakers to halt an amendment that would shorten the time needed for Chinese spouses of Taiwanese to gain citizenship in Taiwan. The amendment could put a strain on Taiwan’s already burdened National Health Insurance (NHI) system, Cheng Ching Hospital thoracic surgery division doctor Tu Cheng-che (杜承哲) said. Doctors have seen many Chinese spouses bring their relatives to hospital emergency rooms, asking for full checkups, he added. “They [Chinese spouses] even tell their relatives that healthcare in Taiwan is free and is easily accessible, and that healthcare providers in Taiwan
For millennia, stratagem and deception have been baked into Chinese strategic culture and statecraft. So it is imperative to consider the risks of Chinese deception regarding theater or tactical nuclear weapons of under 5,000 kilometer range. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Chinese military experts who contributed to the eventual Sunzi Bingfa (孫子兵法), or The Art of War, attributed to Master Sun, had concluded that “All warfare is based on deception.” Often referenced in the West as if reduced to cliche, Sunzi Bingfa is of paramount importance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA). This fact goes far to