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Second manned spacecraft successfully takes off
Updated: 2005-10-12 08:58

The launch came just a day after the ruling Chinese Communist Party wrapped up a key meeting to map out the development of the world's seventh-largest economy for the next five years.

In the Chinese capital, President Hu Jintao and Vice President Zeng Qinghong watched the lift-off at the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center.

China's first man is space was Colonel Yang Liwei, who orbited Earth 14 times in the Shenzhen V craft on October 15, 2003.

China, the third nation to put a man into orbit, insisted ahead of the launch that its aspirations in space were strictly peaceful and that it opposes deploying weapons there. Space officials say they hope to land an unmanned probe on the moon by 2010 and launch a space station.

"We do not wish to see any form of weapons in outer space, so we reaffirm that our space flight program is an important element of mankind's peaceful utilization of outer space," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said.

However, Washington sees China's space ambitions as an emerging security concern, with the potential for the Asian giant to boost its military capabilities and eventually challenge US dominance in space.

"US concern about China's space capabilities are first that China might eventually develop the ability to attack US satellites, because the US military is heavily dependent on them," said Phillip Saunders of the Pentagon-linked Institute for National Strategic Studies.

"Second, as China space capabilities improve, it will have the ability also to improve its other military options," Saunders told AFP.

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