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China says space technology being used for military purposes


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BEIJING (PTI): A leading Chinese research group has warned that space technology is being increasingly used for military purposes due to a lack of effective international regulations.

A trend to use space for military purposes has emerged in recent years, said Li Hongbo, a member of research group of the Qian Xuesen Laboratory of Launch Vehicle Technology, part of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation which compiled a report on the status of international space technology.

"Current international laws and regulations have been ineffective to contain it," Li said calling for peaceful exploration and utilisation of outer space.

The report comes in the backdrop of a call by President Xi Jinping to the Chinese airforce to integrate its air and space capabilities.

China surprised the world by shooting down its satellite in orbit with a ground-based missile in 2007.

The report compiled by the group was China's first assessment of the current situation and future trends of international space activities, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The report showed that space activities have flourished in recent years.

Big space powers led in terms of satellite launch attempts and in-orbit assets. Modern facilities and equipment used in space activities are mostly owned by leading powers.

So far, 12 countries have gained the ability to launch satellites independently, said the report without revealing their names.

Of the 159 launches that took place between 2012 and 2013, 86.8 per cent were conducted by four leading powers, including Russia, the US, China and the European Union, the report said without making any reference to India which had launched seven satellites from Sriharikota during this period besides the Mars Orbiter which had crossed the halfway mark towards its destination.

The report said there were an estimated 1,084 satellites in orbit by August 2013, according to a calculation by the research group based on figures from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

A total of 461 satellites are independently owned by the US while Russia has 111 and the EU possesses 110. The three powers have 63 per cent of global space assets, the report said.

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