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US eyes to create Space Force

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US President Donald Trump's administration has announced an ambitious plan to usher in a new Space Force as the sixth branch of the US military by 2020, a move that Chinese experts said on Friday may trigger fierce competition in the development of space weapons.

On Thursday, US Vice President Mike Pence made the announcement to meet what he said were emerging threats on a new battlefield, CNN reported.

"The time has come to establish the United States Space Force," he said during a speech at the Pentagon.

It would be the country's sixth military branch. Pence said the goal is to have the US Space Force up and running by 2020. He cited increased space activity by rival countries as key to the decision, pointing the finger at two nations in particular - China and Russia.

US President Donald Trump followed up Pence's announcement with a tweet on Friday, writing "Space Force all the way!"

Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Friday that "President Ronald Regan's 'Star Wars' proposal was only a plan that was never implemented. But Trump has the resources to push for the Space Force idea."

In 1983, Reagan proposed an ambitious strategic defense initiative in space, which became known as "Star Wars" initiative.

"The US has acquired a lot of achievements on research and development of space technologies, including hypersonic vehicles and advanced laser transmitters. Establishing the Space Force would help the production of space equipment that could be used in actual combat. The US will also begin to study strategies to be used in possible wars in the space," Wang said.

Even though Trump is using Space Force for his own political hype, it will create a new situation for the US military once the proposal is passed by the US Congress, Wang said.

Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University's Institute of International Relations, said that Trump wants to push the Space Force plan as some of his supporters are from the US military and making the US the absolute leader in the military field will also increase his political popularity domestically.

Trump's 2020 re-election campaign sent a fundraising email yesterday asking supporters to vote on their favorite Space Force logo for future Trump campaign merchandise, offering six choices.

"The US wants to keep its cutting-edge position in the military competition with other countries in the world as well as in space. This is the US' traditional security strategy," Li told the Global Times on Friday.

But critics view the creation of a Space Force as an unnecessary and expensive endeavor.

Democratic Senator Brian Schatz, who is on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, tweeted that the Space Force is a "dumb idea."

The Department of Defense provided a report to the US Congress, calling for the creation of US Space Command, CNN reported.

Officials told CNN on Thursday that the command would likely include existing military resources and personnel, like the US Air Force's Space Command.

Establishing a new military service geared at space would be a massive undertaking and require action from Congress both to establish the service and provide funding, CNN reported on Thursday.

China, Russia would not follow

Pence was quoted by CNN as saying on Thursday that "both China and Russia have been conducting highly sophisticated on-orbit activities that could enable them to maneuver their satellites into close proximity of ours," adding that this is "posing unprecedented new dangers to our space systems."

Li said that "if the US wants to start a space arms race that regards China and Russia as enemies, the latter two countries would not follow."

"China pays more attention to economic development, national stability and people's livelihood. And we have learned the lesson from the arms race between the US and the Soviet Union," Li said.

He noted that Russian and Chinese militaries have developed expertise in space in recent years but they still lag behind the US.

"China's spending in the field has been less than that of the US," Li said.

Wang said that the US' plan for a Space Force would not change China's current strategies on space development.

However, Li said that a US space force will certainly get the attention of other great powers and create fierce competition.

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