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China for peaceful use of outer space, says President

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BEIJING (AFP/PTI): Chinese President Hu Jintao has said his nation supported peaceful use of outer space, days after his air force commander sparked concerns by saying an arms race in space was inevitable.

Hu’s comments, which echoed those made the day before by a foreign ministry spokesman, appeared to hammer home the message that Beijing has not abandoned its long-held opposition to the weaponisation of space.

“China will unswervingly uphold a national defence policy that is defensive in nature, and will never seek military expansion and an arms race,” Xinhua news agency quoted Hu as telling visiting foreign air force delegations on Friday.

“China will ... support the peaceful development of outer space and actively participate in cooperation on global space security,” he said at the ceremony marking the 60th birthday of the country's air force.

Hu's remarks appeared to be aimed at cooling down rhetoric by the air force commander, Xu Qiliang, who told the state press that it was imperative for China's air force to develop offensive and defensive operations in outer space.

“As far as the revolution in military affairs is concerned, the competition between military forces is moving towards outer space... this is a historical inevitability and a development that cannot be turned back,” Xu told the People's Liberation Army Daily.

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