US embassy cable - 08BEIJING647 (original version)

CHINA'S ANGST OVER U.S. SATELLITE INTERCEPTION (original version)

Identifier: 08BEIJING647
Wikileaks: View 08BEIJING647 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beijing
Created: 2008-02-22 10:12:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: CH ESA ETTC KTIA NASA PNAT PREL TPHY TSPA
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
O 221012Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5272
PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
INFO CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 
NASA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
S E C R E T BEIJING 000647 
 
 
STATE FPR EAP/CM - THORNTON AND HABJAN 
STATE FOR ISN-MDSP-BUENNEKE 
STATE FOR PMAT 
STATE FOR OES/SAT 
STATE FOR NP/CBM 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2018 
TAGS: CH, ESA, ETTC, KTIA, NASA, PNAT, PREL, TPHY, TSPA, 
TSPL 
SUBJECT: CHINA'S ANGST OVER U.S. SATELLITE INTERCEPTION 
 
REF: A. SECSTATE 8231 B. BEIJING 283 C. BEIJING 358 D. SECSTATE 15164 E. BEIJINJG 581 F. BEIJING 634 
 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel Piccutu for Reasons 1.5 (b) and 1.5 (d). 
 
1. (S) Summary: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) contacts 
with Post regarding the wayward U.S. satellite (USA-193) 
focused mainly on the timely provision of technical 
information as to the satellite,s likely impact location and 
any U.S. plans to mitigate potential harm caused by the 
satellite,s re-entry. When the decision was made to 
intercept the satellite, MFA interlocutors repeatedly 
emphasized that the United States should provide information 
on the planned satellite interception prior to releasing the 
information to CNN.  While direct discussions with MFA on the 
satellite issue mostly focused on the technical aspects of 
the situation, MFA press briefings underscored PRC 
reservations regarding the shoot-down, saying that the PRC 
was concerned about &possible harm caused by the U.S. action 
to outer space security.8  Several academics commented that 
much of the PRC public and official response to the event was 
driven by their anger over the berating the PRC received 
after their January 2007 ASAT test and at the recent U.S. 
&rejection8 of the joint PRC-Russian proposal for a treaty 
to ban weapons in space. End summary. 
 
Falling Satellite 
----------------- 
 
2. (S) On January 27 (Beijing time), ESTHOFF officially 
passed word (Ref A) to An Gang, Division Chief, Office of 
American Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the 
inoperable satellite USA 193 would soon be re-entering the 
Earth,s atmosphere.  Although, at the time, An Gang had no 
comments or questions, MFA officially responded on January 31 
(Beijing time), when Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jieyi 
passed to Post several technical questions (Ref C) requesting 
more information about potential impact areas and U.S. plans 
to mitigate potential harm once the satellite re-entered the 
earth,s atmosphere. 
 
3. (S) An Gang informed ESTHOFF that he would be China,s 
POC, and then asked ESTHOFF for assurance that 24-hour 
contact (if necessary) could be established between An and 
ESTHOFF on this issue. Over the next several days, An made 
several calls to ESTHOFF to ask for assurances that the 
United States would provide to China regular and timely 
information on the satellite,s situation as it developed. 
An emphasized that the Government of China was especially 
concerned that the satellite debris might strike Chinese 
territory.  ESTHOFF assured An Gang that the United States 
would start to provide regular and timely updates once more 
information on the satellite re-entry became clear. 
 
MFA: Please Tell Us Prior To CNN 
-------------------------------- 
 
4. (S) On February 15 (Beijing time), ESTHOFF passed An the 
demarche in Ref D announcing U.S. satellite-interception 
plans. An emphasized that China was keen to receive timely 
information from the United States regarding the plans for 
the satellite, especially prior to any information being 
released to the press.  An also noted that the U.S. point 
made in the demarche that China should not use the U.S. 
satellite-interception event as an excuse to conduct further 
anti-satellite tests was unnecessary and irrelevant.  An said 
the two events should not be linked. 
 
5. (S) Over the next few days, An asked ESTHOFF for any 
information as to the date and location of the planned 
satellite-intercept.  On February 20 (Beijing time), An 
called ESTOFF to say that CNN was reporting the satellite 
interception would take place the next day.  n asked if we 
had any information that we could share.  ESTHOFF told An 
that we had nothing official, but informed him of a 
world-wide NOTAM (Notice to Aviators and Mariners) that had 
been issued for the next day.  An again emphasized the 
importance China placed in receiving notification on the 
result of the satellite-intercept prior to it being reported 
by CNN. 
 
6. (S) On February 21 (Beijing time), Post received direct 
confirmation of the results of the anti-satellite test 
directly from PACOM, and with Admiral Keating's permission, 
Post immediately informed AFM Liu Jieyi. AFM Liu asked 
several questions which focused on receiving any information 
available on potential debris fields and their likely impact 
locations. 
 
7. (S) On February 22 (Beijing time), ESTHOFF passed the 
unofficial transcript (which basically answered most of the 
GOC,s questions) of the DOD press briefing which took place 
the night before (Beijing time) in Washington D.C. 
 
MFA Press Conferences Highlight PRC Reservations 
----------------------------------- 
 
8. (U) Ref E and F coverage of recent MFA press conferences 
highlight official PRC reservation regarding the shoot-down. 
During the February 19 press briefing, spokesperson Liu 
Jianchao said that China was highly concerned over the action 
and would watch the situation closely.  China "hopes that the 
United States will fulfill its obligations to the 
international community."  Liu emphasized that China is "not 
the only country" which has expressed concern over the 
announcement.  During the February 21 press briefing, Liu 
reiterated that China was closely following the "possible 
harm caused by the U.S. action to outer space security and 
relevant countries" and again requested that the United 
States fulfill its obligations in "real earnest" and provide 
data so that relevant countries might take precautions. 
 
Academics Call PRC Response Pay Back for 2007 ASAT Test 
------------------------------------ 
 
9. (C) Several academics say that much of the PRC public and 
official response to the event is driven by their anger over 
the berating the PRC received after their January 2007 ASAT 
test.  Professor Zhu Feng, Deputy Director of Peking 
University,s School of International Studies, said that 
while the PRC views the shoot-down as a &negative event,8 
he believes most of the bad press is driven by the PRC to 
desire to &fire back.8  &These are really the same 
issue,8 he said, &so we are going to give you the same you 
gave us.8  Calling the PRC reaction &mostly emotional,8 he 
requested technical data confirming the satellite,s 
destruction so he could &make some public statements8 and 
try to &calm things down a little.8 (Note. Poloff sent Zhu 
the transcripts and web links to the 21 February Department 
of Defense Press Release and Press Conference. End Note.) 
 
10. (C) Dr. Liu Qing, Deputy Director of the China Institute 
for International Studies (CIIS), in a separate meeting, 
echoed Zhu,s comments, saying &You can expect China,s 
response will be much the same in return8 for what China 
received in 2007.  Admitting that China shared almost no 
information before or after their 2007 ASAT test, Dr. Liu 
lauded U.S. efforts to inform the international community 
about U.S. plans to shoot down USA 193, saying &I think we 
have learned, and maybe next time, China will be more 
transparent.8  He also mused that this event may help gel 
international support for a treaty limiting the use of 
weapons in outer space. 
 
11. (C) Dr. Teng Jianqun, Deputy Secretary General of the 
China Arms Control and Disarmament Department, took a 
different point of view, instead citing the U.S. 
&rejection8 of the 12 February joint PRC-Russian proposal 
for a treaty banning weapons in space as the incendiary 
driving PRC anger.  &This shoot-down proves the U.S. missile 
defense system is also an offensive system,8 he said, so the 
shoot down has provided them an ideal opportunity to voice 
their objection.  In a 21 February opinion paper posted on 
the CIIS website, Dr. Teng described the shoot-down as 
unnecessary and simply an opportunity to test the U.S. 
missile defense system. 
 
RANDT 

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