In late August, President Bush authorized a new national space policy that ignored calls for a global prohibition on such tests. The policy said the United States would “preserve its rights, capabilities, and freedom of action in space” and “dissuade or deter others from either impeding those rights or developing capabilities intended to do so.” It declared the United States would “deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to U.S. national interests.”Of course it is. The Chinese are rapidly gaining the ability to, if not mirror, then deter certain US policies. The Americans claim the right to deny space to their adversaries, so the Chinese do the obvious -- show they can play rough, too.
The Chinese test “could be a shot across the bow,” said Theresa Hitchens, director of the Center for Defense Information, a private group in Washington that tracks military programs. “For several years, the Russians and Chinese have been trying to push a treaty to ban space weapons. The concept of exhibiting a hard-power capability to bring somebody to the negotiating table is a classic cold war technique.”
A commenter at FPSpace says this was more impressive than some commentary realizes -- the ability to hit a satellite by a direct launch speaks to a much "smarter" missile than previously suspected.