On 20 December 2019, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2020 and established a sixth branch of the armed forces – the United States Space Force (USSF). On 14 January 2020, General Jay Raymond was formally sworn in as the inaugural Chief of Space Operations at a White House ceremony led by Vice President Mike Pence.[i] Soon after the December announcement, multiple U.S. media outlets reported that the Chinese government openly voiced its opposition to this development through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson, accusing the USSF as a “direct threat to peace and security in outer space.”[ii] It perhaps comes as no surprise that China is not particularly enthusiastic about the USSF against the backdrop of intensified rhetoric and measures taken by the U.S. military to deter and counter expanding Chinese military power in recent years. But more nuanced assessment of what is behind the stern objection from Beijing is needed to help inform the U.S. military planners about the PRC’s perspectives and possible policy responses to the ongoing transformation of the U.S. military.
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[i] Rachel Cohn, “Raymond Sworn in as First Space Force Chief,” https://www.airforcemag.com/raymond-sworn-in-as-first-space-force-chief/
[ii] Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on December 23 2019, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/fyrbt_673021/jzhsl_673025/t1727079.shtml