Current and Future Trends in Chinese Counterspace Capabilities Proliferation Papers, No. 62, November 2020
China is in the midst of a long-term effort to develop a world-class space program with a strong military and national security component.
Since 2015, Chinese official and unofficial writings have increasingly emphasized the importance of space warfare, including for offensive and coercive uses. In parallel, China has engaged in a significant and dedicated effort to develop a wide array of destructive and non-destructive offensive counterspace capabilities since the early 2000s, some of which are – or soon will become – operational.
This study explores the multiple areas of Chinese counterspace capability developments, from co-orbital rendezvous operations to direct ascent antisatellite interceptors and electronic and cyber warfare. It summarizes what is known about current programs, offers estimates regarding the unique characteristics of each capability area and how advanced Chinese capabilities are in each field.
While China’s search for a large array of counterspace capabilities is not unique, it could both directly and indirectly affect U.S. and European strategic interests and thus has vast implications for transatlantic security.