On 11th January 2007, China destroyed one of its retired weather satellites, causing uproar in the global society. China became the third country in the world to successfully test anti-satellite weapons.
The stunning anti-satellite (ASAT) test was not only further evidence of China's rapidly evolving space program but was a clear indication that Beijing may have reversed course on its longstanding opposition to the weaponization of space. Policy makers and defense analysts were alarmed at the test expressing concern that it could be interpreted as a provocative challenge to America's space dominance. (Howland, 2007)
Anti-satellite programs are of utmost concern to US military planners due to USA's reliance on space-based command, control and guidance satellites. ASAT could possibly disrupt USA's essential daily functions.
ASAT was a cold war project. Both USA and the Soviet Union had developed such technologies during the cold war. China is believed to have acquired the Soviet Union's ASAT technology.
The destruction of the satellite also left dangerous debris in the atmosphere. Radar tracking data revealed debris from the impact was ejected in all directions. "This is by far the worst satellite fragmentation in the history of the space age, in the past 50 years", Nicholas Johnson, NASA's chief scientist for orbital debris told Aviation Week & Space Technology, February 12, 2007. "Many of these debris will be in orbit for 100 years or more because the altitude of the breakup was so high," he said. (Howland, 2007)
The Chinese testing of ASAT could possibly bring about a space arms race. Many countries such as Japan, Taiwan, India, Russia, and USA would be concerned by China's successful ASAT testing, and more funds could be allocated to the ASAT projects in those countries, bringing about a major race for anti-satellite weapons.
USA has an Achilles heel in extensively using satellites in their military and domestic dealings; China's ability to destroy satellites with precision means that in times of direct military contact with USA, USA stands to lose more if satellites of both parties were destroyed. USA definitely react would to this advance in the space military field. As Tellis (2007) concluded, "the U.S. domination of space which underwrites both its civilian and military advantages is at risk, and therefore necessitates a series of remedial investments."
Also, Tellis (2007) believe that China's strategists have concluded that efforts to defeat U.S. military power should not aim its capacity to deliver overwhelming conventional firepower from long distances, but instead target its weakest links, namely its space-based capabilities and their related ground installations.
This particular episode in world events can contribute to 1 component of the civilizational paradigm proposed by this site:
East Asian tendency to be heavily influenced by world powers - China is eager to gain a stand in the global stage after being suppressed by Western forces for the past few centuries. Their testing of destroying a satellite shows their eagerness to show their military prowess to challenge USA's hegemony. Scholars such as Tellis (2007) believe that "China is highly unlikely to abandon its counterspace program, as doing so would condemn its armed forces to inevitable defeat against U.S. power." (Tellis, 2007)
East Asian civilization is very reactive towards external forces and heavily influenced by the world's major powers. China's continued confrontation with USA in some ways seems inevitable as China is targeting the US's weakest links to defeat the US military power. (Tellis, 2007) China is increasingly seeing its relations with America as a zero sum game.