Nyheten om at Kina har skutt ned en satellitt i rommet, slo ned som en bombe. Det er første gang siden 1985 at en stat har gjort noe slikt.

China signalled yesterday that its first missile strike against an orbiting satellite was intended to force the US into talks aimed at abolishing weapons in space.

As it faced an international chorus of protest against its test — the first such launch for 20 years — its officials insisted that they wanted space to be free of weapons.

«As the Chinese Government, our principle stand is to promote the peaceful use of space,» a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. «We oppose the militarisation of space. In the past, in the present and in the future, we are opposed to any arms race in space. Of this everyone can be confident.»

The reassurances failed to placate jittery Asian neighbours and Western powers, which fear that the surprise Chinese muscle-flexing is part of a campaign to raise its global military posture while raising the spectre of a space arms race.

China tries to reassure the world on space missile ‘aimed at peace’