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US, Japan Criticize China Over Space Test


China has publicly confirmed for the first time that it carried out an anti-satellite test on January 11. A spokesman says the test should not be viewed as a threat to any country, and does not mean China is engaging in an arms race in space. Sam Beattie reports from Beijing.

China defended itself Tuesday against criticism over its anti-satellite test, in which a ground-based missile was sent to destroy an aging Chinese weather satellite. A government spokesman in Beijing says the Chinese government still opposes the militarization of outer space.

Several countries including the United States and Japan criticized China strongly for its failure to tell other nations about the test in advance, and delaying confirming the test after the fact.

Beijing's first confirmation of the test was made to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill during his visit to Beijing on Monday - days after Washington and other countries began requesting details from Beijing, and 11 days after the test took place.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao asserted that Beijing had responded quickly to U.S. and Japanese expressions of concern.

"There is nothing for China to hide," he said. "After the relevant parties expressed their concerns, we made our response quickly."

Liu says China is not participating in an arms race in outer space, and he says the test was not aimed at other nations.

"This test was not directed at any country and does not constitute a threat to any country," added Liu.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman says he has no knowledge of any plans for a second test.

The Japanese government said Tuesday it is still seeking a fuller explanation from the Chinese. A Japanese spokesman said the information from Beijing to date has not been sufficient to ease Tokyo's "great concerns" over the test.

Although there are no international treaties in place to prohibit such a test, experts say the debris from the destroyed satellite could be hazardous to other countries' satellites for many years to come.

Both the U.S. and Japan have long called for China to provide more transparency on its military programs. Both nations also accuse China of publicizing only a fraction of its actual defense spending.

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