Space force

Inside the ring: Space Force chief backs Biden’s soft agenda

Air Force Gen. John Raymond, head of the newly created space force, says he supports the Biden administration’s efforts to reach a UN-sponsored agreement on military activity in the space, which past administrations have dismissed as an arms control ploy by China and Russia. to limit American power in space.

The four-star general also endorsed the Biden administration’s recent unilateral declaration to ban anti-satellite tests that create debris in space. General Raymond said he supports the idea of ​​trying to deter conflict in space through arms agreements to set international “standards” for military space operations.

Critics claim that China and Russia have routinely violated these international standards by building multiple space weapons and performing destructive anti-satellite (ASAT) tests. General Raymond acknowledged that enforcing military space rules would be difficult.

“But if we had a set of rules and you ran the red light, we could say, ‘You ran the red light,'” he said. “It helps identify bad behavior.”

Gen. Raymond also praised the Pentagon’s recently announced but loosely defined strategy called “integrated deterrence,” which seeks to prevent war through more than military might by adding additional means and international allies.

“I think it’s clear that if deterrence fails and we were to get into a conflict, maybe the first place that conflict could start would be in space,” General Raymond said during a speaking at the Aspen Security Conference this week in Colorado.

The four-star general didn’t mention that the Space Force currently has only one declared space weapon: an electronic jammer. China and Russia, on the other hand, have deployed several types of missiles capable of destroying satellites in multiple orbits, ground-based lasers and electronic jammers that can disrupt or destroy orbiting satellites and satellite robots in orbit that can grab and crush enemy satellites.

Instead of space weapons, the Space Force works to protect and defend satellites from attack, Gen. Raymond said.

Russia blew up a satellite with a missile in November, creating about 1,500 pieces of space junk traveling at 17,000 miles per hour that can damage other systems in orbit, he said. China also blew up a satellite with a missile in 2007, leaving around 3,000 pieces of debris in high-speed orbit.

General Raymond said China “went from zero to 60 very quickly” in its buildup of armaments, including space warfare capabilities. Beijing strategists see US space systems as a key military vulnerability that could be targeted in a conflict.

But instead of seeking to match Russian and Chinese space capabilities, General Raymond said the United States was “really working hard [to promote] rule-based order if you will in space,” he said.

“And today, one of the challenges is that there are no rules or very few rules,” General Raymond said. “It’s the wild Wild West.”

The Biden administration is trying to develop standards of behavior for what is “safe and professional” in space, the general said. By unilaterally banning ASAT testing, General Raymond said the United States wanted to show responsible behavior even if the Russians and Chinese did not reciprocate.

Critics have dismissed the administration’s ban on destructive ASAT testing as a hollow gesture that will do little to stop Beijing and Moscow from building more ASAT missile weapons.

“There are also ongoing discussions in the United Nations between nations to determine what the rules of the road are,” he said. “I really believe we have to put them in place.” The rules could delineate things like space rules of engagement and the definition of hostile intent.

It was unclear from the general’s comment whether he was referring to the draft UN Treaty on the Prevention of Weapons in Outer Space, which has been proposed by Russia and China but dismissed by the United States in the past as unverifiable.

The Pentagon has said in the past that China and Russia are trying to use the deal as a way to limit US military space capabilities while the two nations pursue their space weapons programs.

China again urges US not to target communist system

The Chinese government is once again demanding that the United States promise not to overthrow the country’s communist system as a precondition for improving bilateral relations, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi presented four lists of demands to Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a July 9 meeting in Bali. A lengthy Chinese statement on the Blinken-Wang meeting said China believes the Trump administration has seriously damaged relations and that Beijing “even faces growing challenges” under President Biden.

Wang told the secretary of state that the current bilateral relationship is facing further decline due to the rise of “China phobia”.

“Wang Yi stressed that since the United States promised not to seek to change the Chinese system, it should respect the Chinese people’s choice of socialism with Chinese characteristics and stop smearing and attacking the political system and China’s domestic and foreign policies”. said the ministry.

President Xi Jinping has launched an aggressive propaganda campaign promoting Chinese Communism as an alternative to Western democracy.

It was the second time in two months that China demanded that the United States end its anti-communist policies.

In June, a senior Chinese Communist Party official, Yang Jiechi, delivered a similar message to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan during a meeting in Luxembourg.

The official Xinhua news agency said the lists presented to Mr. Blinken included “American wrongdoings that must stop”; a list of major individual cases to be resolved by the United States; a list of congressional actions “of serious concern to China”; and a list of cooperation projects in eight areas.

A State Department official denied the list of claims. “Our diplomacy and engagement with the PRC is based on the interests of the people of the United States, not on responding to lists prepared by the PRC,” the official said, using the acronym People’s Republic of China.

Leaked document reveals censorship of Xi’s nicknames

Internal Chinese documents have surfaced in the West revealing how censors are blocking the online use of more than 500 nicknames used to criticize Chinese President Xi Jinping, including “Personally Commanding the Pandemic”, “Adolf Xitler” and “Beast Chairman”. “.

The documents were obtained by China Digital Times, a California-based dissident outlet that has obtained internal Communist Party documents in the past.

The recent documents were obtained from a Chinese social media and shopping platform called Xiaohongshu, which has around 200 million users. Chinese people using social media can share their views in several ways, including product reviews and travel stories.

According to a document, Xiaohongshu censors – under the supervision of government propaganda agencies – built a knowledge base to filter content. During the period between February and May 2020, a total of 564 words were added to the database that were found to be offensive to the Chinese leader.

In China, censoring critics of Mr. Xi is considered a very high priority — often more important than blocking content about human rights abuses in China or the 1989 military crackdown on unarmed protesters in China. Beijing, according to Chinese analysts.

Censors reviewing online content found 271 cases using the well-known tactic of using nicknames and homonyms in Chinese to circumvent censors by criticizing the party leader and president.

The moniker “Personally Commanding the Pandemic” is based on Mr. Xi’s public statement in 2020 that he was overall responsible for China’s widely criticized response to the COVID-19 pandemic that began in Wuhan, China. .

The list of banned words also includes “the Pooh story” – a reference to Mr Xi’s supposed resemblance to the well-known AA Milne character, Winnie the Pooh, who Chinese dissidents frequently use as a surrogate to criticize Mr xi. As a result, government censors banned all online references to Winnie the Pooh.

Other censored references to Mr. Xi include “Mr. S—Pit”, “Leader of the People”, “Xi Foreskin”, “Be the Emperor’s Clown”, “Legal Heir of Tiananmen” and “Unlimited Re-election “.

The latest moniker refers to Mr. Xi’s elimination of term limits for China’s top leader, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China. This action should be further reinforced during a major party rally scheduled for this fall.

• Bill Gertz can be reached on Twitter at @BillGertz.