Thursday, October 28, 2004

Earth calling

Not content with speaking up for its own interests, the Peoples’ Republic of China is now calling on the whole of the Earth to rise up to resist the US space monopoly (therefore, strictly, the Earth minus the USA).

So speaks the official news organ of the Chinese government, China Daily, which in a release today cites an article in the "Business Week" magazine which claims that Galileo is under threat by the United States. This, of course, is the article last Sunday in The Business, which referred particularly to the use by China of Galileo for military purposes.

However, China Daily confines the US threat to attack the Galileo network if "it is used by alleged adversaries, such as terrorists" and then condemns this intent as "nothing but a US monopoly" which "sharply runs counter to the spirit of peaceful use of outer space and closer international space co-operation."

Says China Daily: "It explicitly demonstrates, once again, the urgency for the rest of the world to have an independent satellite-based positioning and timing infrastructure to ruffle the dominance of the US amid mounting worries about its post-September 11 hegemony in the name of anti-terror".

In words that the EU would hardly use, but has always been the unspoken rationale behind the project, it identifies the intention of Galileo as, "to free the EU from its reliance on the US Global Positioning System (GPS)".

But what is really telling is its description of Galileo, which it says, "promises a more reliable and accurate service unaffected by military needs, and uninterrupted access for all users, both civil and military." So much for a system that is for civilian use only.

And the US desire to protect its position is called "sabre-rattling", which speaks "volumes about the importance for the rest of the world to be present on the international scene in all aspects of cutting-edge technologies."

Space is so vast and any earthly ambition to monopolise it would make no sense, says China Daily, and "The Pentagon should be fully mindful that the world will never accept 'serfdom' in space by relying solely on US GPS."

Quite. But that the China Daily does not address it why anyone should be worried when the US, in an act of generosity, has made its GPS freely available to all users, and is threatening action against Galileo only if its is used for military purposes against US troops or assets. Since, we are told, the Chinee intend only to use Galileo for civilian purposes, what is their problem?

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