Chinese Missile Defense, or Space Offense?

State Department officials believe Chinese development of a ballistic missile defense system would at best provide the Chinese with a “limited defense” of their homeland that would not undercut the deterrent value of the US nuclear arsenal, said Frank Rose, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance. “Developing a comprehensive system to cope with a full-scale attack from another nuclear-armed great power would be expensive and ultimately unsuccessful,” said Rose in a Feb. 20 speech in Washington, D.C. “Although China does not say much about its BMD programs, China publicly announced that it conducted ground-based midcourse BMD tests in 2010, 2013, and 2014,” he said. US officials are most concerned by the fact that the one in 2014 actually appears to have been a test of an anti-satellite weapon, said Rose, noting that such action is “destabilizing and threatens the long-term security and sustainability of the outer space environment.” China remains opaque regarding its nuclear posture and strategy, including the role of BMD. The United States is attempting to open dialogue on these topics to encourage a “more stable, resilient, and transparent security relationship with China,” said Rose.