China has no plans to carry out another test of an anti-satellite weapon, Japan's former defense chief said Monday, citing a conversation with the Chinese defense minister.
Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan's reported remarks are the latest attempt by Beijing to tamp down criticism over last month's test, in which a missile shattered a defunct Chinese weather satellite.
Former Japanese defense chief Fukushiro Nukaga told Japanese reporters that Cao said at a meeting Monday: "China conducted a test for scientific purposes and it did not target any country and did not pose a threat to any country, and therefore it did not go against agreements."
The test was widely criticized as a provocative display of China's growing military capability. It unnerved Japan, a regional rival, but also more friendly countries like South Korea who depend on satellites for communications.
Beijing took two weeks to publicly confirm the Jan. 11 test, a reticence that compounded suspicions about Chinese intentions. In addition several countries and scientific experts have expressed concern that the debris created by the test could damage or interfere with other satellites in orbit.
Russia and the United States have both conducted similar tests, but stopped doing so in the 1980s.
China insists it is committed to the peaceful use of space, and along with Russia presented a draft outline for a treaty to prevent the deployment of weapons in space to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 2002.
Since the test, Beijing has indicated it remains willing to work with other countries on an agreement to prevent an arms race in space.
Washington and Tokyo have said the Chinese test undermined efforts to keep weapons out of space.
President Bush signed an order in October tacitly asserting the U.S. right to space weapons and opposing the development of treaties or other measures restricting them.