Chinese missile test prompts concerns

Some Western countries and Japan are protesting China's test of a an anti-satellite missile, but China is denying any knowledge of the incident.

Some Western countries and Japan are protesting China'stest of an anti-satellite missile, but Beijing is denying any knowledge of the incident.

The U.S., Britain, Australia, Japan and South Korea are concerned about the test, which apparently took place Jan. 11.

Wire services reported that Canada had also protested, but a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs could not confirm that on Friday morning.

The countries that protested are worried that using a ballistic missile to destroyan old weather satellite more than 800 kilometres above the Earth could fuel the space arms race.

There arealso concerns that the debris created coulddamage other satellites.

TheChinese satellite was about the same distance from Earth as U.S. spy satellites, prompting some analysts to suggest that the test represented a potential threat to America, the Associated Press reported.

ButChinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Friday thathe wasnot aware of any test.

Nonetheless, the U.S., Britian and other countries are treating it as fact.

"The United States believes China's development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of co-operation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area," Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White HouseNational Security Council, said Thursday.

In London, a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said Britain was concerned about the creation of debris in space and the lack of consultation about the test.

The Russian news agency RIA Novosti said aretiredhigh-ranking expert, Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov, believed theChinese missile was based on a 1970s Russian design to destroy satellites.

The Chinese spokesman said China opposed the militarization of space.

The U.S. hasbeen able toknock out satellites with missiles since the mid-1980s, the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists in the U.S. says.

Theonly U.S. test was conducted on Oct. 13, 1985. Later that year, the U.S. government implemented a ban on testing anti-satellite weapons.

With files from the Associated Press