Chinese missile defence
Anything you can do
As China’s army flexes its muscles, a missile is intercepted截击;截取 in space
Jan 14th 2010 | BEIJING | From The Economist print edition
AFTER startling惊讶的 the world three years ago with the blizzard 暴
风雪of hazardous 危险的space debris 残骸;废墟scattered 分散by a
secretive 好隐瞒的;不融洽的test of an anti-satellite missile导弹, China
this week tried a more upfront优先的 approach. Instead of waiting for
the Pentagon to tell the world, the official news agency, Xinhua, on January 11th tersely简明的 announced China’s successful test of a
land-based missile-defence system. It was not, it said, directed at any other country.
For an army that rarely flaunts炫耀;标榜 its technological
achievements, this marked a cautious openness. But that will hardly reassure 安慰;使安心the Americans. The test apparently 显然;似乎
made China the only country after America to use a missile to destroy another in space. A Pentagon五角星 official confirmed that two
missiles had been detected 查明;发现and that they had collided 碰撞;
冲突outside the earth’s atmosphere. The Pentagon was not informed in advance.
The timing of the test suggested it was intended as a show of strength following the Pentagon’s announcement four days earlier that it had
cleared the long-expected sale of advanced Patriot 爱国者
missile-defence systems to Taiwan. China has been conducting on-and-off research into missile-defence systems since the 1960s. But the technology it appears now to be mastering could just as well be used for attacking satellites. This unsettles 使不安America, with an
army that depends on space-based technologies.
China always reacts angrily to American arms sales to Taiwan, an island it considers its own. In this case it had reason to be somewhat relieved that the Americans did not agree to Taiwan’s request for F-16
fighter jets 喷气式飞机and Black Hawk helicopters. But the Chinese government is in a muscle-flexing伸展;弯曲 mood, encouraged by a
sense that America increasingly needs China’s help to solve its own,
and the world’s, problems.
In the past China’s response has been limited to suspending暂停;迟
缓 military dialogue with America. The government is still anxious to avoid serious disruption to ties to a vital trading partner with military capabilities that still far outstrip胜过;跑过 China’s. But in the past few
days the official press has published unusually open calls on the government to boycott American companies that sell arms to Taiwan, applauded by China’s notoriously臭名昭彰 nationalistic民族主义的
internet-users. Global Times, a Beijing newspaper, called for public discussion of possible retaliation回报;报复. “Hold an open forum, and
let the Chinese people have the last word,” it said. Such a prospect希望;期望, though hardly likely, would be truly chilling 失望;沮丧for