Letter | Overstating the Threat Posed by Chinese Space Program

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We were disappointed with Tom Ramstack’s recent article “Expert Sees Threat in China’s Growing Space Program” [Nov. 14, page 11] concerning a panel discussion sponsored by the Secure World Foundation on China’s space-based surveillance capabilities and how they may impact space security.

We were very surprised that Mr. Ramstack’s overall conclusion from the event was that China’s increasing space capabilities pose a strong threat to the United States, when in fact the speakers presented a much more nuanced perspective. To support his viewpoint, Mr. Ramstack selectively quoted one speaker throughout nearly his entire article, mentioning the other three speakers only briefly in the final paragraphs.

The slant taken by Mr. Ramstack’s article is very evident in comparison to another summary of the same event, Dwayne A. Day’s “Staring into the Eyes of the Dragon” found in the online journal The Space Review. Mr. Day provides a more thorough summary of the panelists’ opinions by noting, “They generally agreed that the Chinese are rapidly acquiring a capability that the United States should be concerned about, but explained that the threat is more nuanced, and complex, than it first appears.”

We certainly do not intend to downplay some of the real concerns about China’s space capabilities and intent. However, exaggerating or oversimplifying the threat for political purposes misses the broader drivers and geopolitical strategic context that are shaping China’s space program and the strategic implications for the United States. It is important for our policymakers to be fully informed so that they can make objective, rational decisions on how best to deal with China, and we feel strongly that articles like Mr. Ramstack’s do a disservice to your readers and the quality of this newspaper.

 

Victoria Samson and Brian Weeden

Washington office director and technical advisor

Secure World Foundation