China's Foreign Ministry says it can not confirm reports that the nation successfully tested a new anti-satellite weapon last week.
A ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, Friday told reporters he had no knowledge of the test. He did say that China advocates the peaceful use of space and that it does not want to get into a space arms race.
Reports of the test from space experts have raised concerns around the globe.
A White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said Friday the U.S. administration has voiced concerns to Chinese officials in Beijing and Washington. The spokeswoman said Washington has yet to receive a response from the Chinese.
Reports of the test first appeared in the publication Aviation Week and Space Technology. U.S. intelligence agencies later confirmed that the test took place January 11, when China used a ground-based anti-satellite missile to destroy one of its own aging weather satellites.
Analysts note that, if confirmed, the test might mean China could destroy U.S. spy satellites.
A U.S. National Security Council spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, said Washington believes China's development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation in the field of space.
In Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhiso Shiozaki said Tokyo is concerned about any act of destroying an artificial satellite with a ballistic missile, and has demanded a full explanation from Beijing. Australia also is seeking an explanation from the Chinese government.
The director of the private Center for Defense Information, Theresa Hitchens, said the test has been confirmed by tracking data and space debris. But she said it is difficult to predict what China plans to do next.
Hitchens said Beijing may want to spark negotiations on space weapons, which Washington so far has resisted. She said another possibility is that it may be trying to establish supremacy in weapons the U.S. has not pursued for the past 20 years.
A senior space and missile analyst at the security research company, Global Security.org, calls the launch a serious development. Charles Vick also notes that the debris the test left in space may take decades to disappear.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.