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China's president urges greater militarization of space

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April 1, 2014: China's President Xi Jinping speaks to the College of Europe, at the Concert building in Bruges, Belgium. (AP)

China’s president is calling on his country to boost its military power in space by increasing coordination between its air and space defense programs.

Speaking at the air force headquarters in Beijing, Xi Jinping told officers "to speed up air and space integration and sharpen their offensive and defensive capabilities,” Xinhua news agency reported late Monday, according to Reuters.

The news agency did not elaborate as to how China expects to do this, but state media Tuesday called it a response to the United States’ increasing militarization of space.

"The idea of combining air and space capability is not new to the Chinese air force, as a host of experts have underscored the importance of space," the official China Daily newspaper said.

China says its space program is for peaceful means, but a Pentagon report released last year claimed Beijing is looking at ways to block its rivals from using space-based assets during a crisis, Reuters reports.

An analysis of satellite images also suggests that a Chinese rocket launch in May 2013 was actually a test of an anti-satellite weapon and not a research mission.

Jinping previously has said he wants China to become a superpower in space.

Click for more from Reuters.

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