Startling detail a sign of Beijing’s plan to militarize space?
A display to promote China’s Jade Rabbit Moon rover includes a background photograph of a mushroom cloud over Europe, a startling detail which some have interpreted as an indication that Beijing’s space program is a cover for the militarization of space.
The image, which was used as a backdrop at an exhibit for China’s recently deployed Yutu Rover, clearly shows a nuclear explosion occurring over eastern Europe, with some speculating that the location eerily matches that of the planned U.S. missile defense system in Romania.
The photograph was not designed deliberately for the moon rover display, it is taken from a stock image. This fact has been cited by those who claim that the selection of the image was a mere oversight on behalf of Chinese officials.
However, the title of the stock image, Nuclear Explosion on Earth from Space, has prompted more cynical observers to suggest otherwise.
“There are undoubtedly those who will interpret the choice of image as a deliberate gesture,” writes Robert Gonzales. “China – having been denied membership in the multinational partnership that operates the International Space Station – has managed to forge an increasingly impressive space program largely on its own (NASA, for instance, is banned by Congress from any contact, collaborations or partnerships with China, primarily due to concerns about technology transfer), a fact that has made for some disquieting observations about China’s rise to ascendancy.”
In addition, the author of the original image has accused the Chinese government of stealing his work and giving him no credit.
“Many thanks to the Chinese government (More precisely, The Chinese International Industry Fair) for stealing & printing my work, with no credit, permission or a damn note!” the artist stated on his website, adding, “I hope your Jade Rabbit falls into a ditch on the moon and is unable to recover, you communist bastards.”
As we previously highlighted, Chinese state media itself has bragged that the moon landing program is merely the first step towards a “Death Star” moon base from which the PLA could launch missiles against any target on Earth.
The fact that top Chinese generals have been known to occasionally threaten the west with nuclear strikes also plays into the concerns.
Last month, Chinese state-run media released a map showing the locations of major U.S. cities and how they would be impacted by a nuclear attack launched from the PLA’s strategic submarine force.
WIth tensions running high over the disputed Senkaku Islands, observers have warned of the threat of a new cold war and an escalating Asian arms race in the aftermath of China declaring an “air defense zone” and suggesting that it would intercept planes entering the region, a threat quickly put to the test when the United States flew two B-2 Bombers over the zone without incident.
In retaliation against what Beijing sees as the United States’ increasingly aggressive presence in the East China sea, China also sent a surveillance ship into Hawaiian waters back in October, a move analysts described as unprecedented.