BEIJING (AP) – China said Monday the launch of a new spacecraft was just a test to see if the vehicle could be reused.
The launch involved a spacecraft rather than a rocket and was “of great importance in reducing the cost of using spacecraft and could provide a convenient and affordable way to tour humanity’s peaceful uses of space,” the spokesman said Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian.
China’s space program is led by its military and is closely tied to its agenda of building hypersonic missiles and other technologies that could change the balance of power with the United States.
“China will work with other countries around the world for the peaceful uses of space and for the benefit of mankind,” said Zhao.
Zhao’s comments on the August test came days after China sent a second crew to its space station. Their six-month mission will be China’s longest manned space mission upon completion, and the crew of three will set a record for most of the time Chinese astronauts spend in space.
In addition to its space program, China’s expansion into hypersonic missile technology and other advanced areas has been a cause for concern as Beijing increasingly asserts its claims to seas and islands in the South and East China Seas, as well as large territories along its disputed high mountain border with India.
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U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to comment on the findings of the August test, but noted that the U.S. remains concerned about China’s expansion of its nuclear capabilities, including nuclear device delivery systems.
These developments underscore that, as noted earlier, (China) is deviating from its decades-long nuclear strategy based on minimal deterrence, “Price told reporters in Washington on Monday.
He said the US would date China over its nuclear capabilities and would continue to uphold US deterrence capabilities against threats to the United States and its allies.
U.S. ally Japan, one of China’s major regional rivals, said it would step up its defenses against a new Chinese offensive weapon.
In this photo released by the Xinhua News Agency, the Shenzhou-13 manned spacecraft will be launched on a Long March-2F launcher from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gobi Desert on October 16, 2021. (Li Gang / Xinhua via AP)
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno called it a “new threat” on Monday that conventional devices find difficult to deal with. He said Japan would increase its detection, tracking and shooting capabilities of “any airborne threat”.
China appears to be speeding up the development of hypersonic nuclear weapons to gain attack capabilities that can break through missile defenses, Matsuno said.
He criticized China for increasing its defense spending, particularly on nuclear and missile capacities, without explaining his intentions.
“China’s rapidly expanding and increasing military activity at sea and in the air has become a major security problem for the region including Japan and international society,” said Matsuno.
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