British overseas territories should be used to counter the China space threat by monitoring the skies above them, a King’s professor has said.
Dr Mark Hilborne, a Defence lecturer at King’s College London (KCL), said as a “small island” the UK needs to take advantage of its territories, such as The Falklands and Diego Garcia, where it can plant sensors on the ground to keep an eye on adversaries’ satellites in space.
He told The Telegraph: “It’s sort of theoretical footprint on the ground, and that will give you coverage of different areas, which the US has kind of gaps in the southern hemisphere so the UK could then fill in that gap in terms of getting an overall picture of what’s in space and who’s doing what.”
He added that it was “relatively cheap to put things on the ground and look upwards” and would be a cost effective way to complement satellites in orbit.
“From a military perspective … if China does things we need to know about it. And the same with Russia,” he said.
In a new paper, ‘China’s space programme: A rising star, a rising challenge’, from the university’s Lau China Institute, Dr Hilborne warns that China is developing space-based capabilities that will gain it economic and diplomatic leverage.
It comes amid growing concerns about China’s influence in UK academia. Earlier this month The Telegraph revealed that scientists at Britain’s leading universities, including Cambridge, Edinburgh and Manchester, have worked on projects with staff at China’s nuclear weapons research institution.
Meanwhile, a new report produced by KCL, the Harvard Kennedy School and the Institute for Scientific Information, which has been co-authored by Boris Johnson’s brother Lord (Jo) Johnson, stressed the scale of Beijing’s involvement in the UK – with China set to overtake the US as the UK’s most significant research partner.
The research found that collaboration between the two has increased to one in ten papers being co-authored with China. It has risen from fewer than 100 co-authored papers before 1990 to 16,267 in 2019, about 11 percent of the UK’s total output.
This compares to around 19 per cent of UK papers with a US co-author and 10.5 per cent with a German co-author.
The report said that this growth has led to a progressive rise for China in terms of ranked frequency among the UK’s partners.
This Article firstly Publish on www.telegraph.co.uk