Fact Sheet Post

            An article written by Jessica Martin (a research assistant at the Institute for China-American Studies) in February of 2020 makes a strong case for why cooperation between the United States and China on space-related issues would be a good thing. About halfway through the piece she gives a lists of 4 incentives for cooperation between NASA and the CNSA, which will be briefly explored in summarized in this post.

  1. “Any nation not within the system cannot be bound by the system”

Martin argues that exclusion of the CNSA in international space efforts allows them to operate outside the existing system of rules and regulations. She cites China’s efforts to be admitted to the International Space Station program that were rejected largely because of the national security concerns discussed in the previous post. She points out that these exclusionary efforts have forced China to operate independently and pursue other space partners. Including China in international space efforts would force them to abide by the existing rules.

  • “Outer space might possess potential to help mitigate Earth’s intensifying environmental crisis”

If you have not heard about climate change by now, you may be living under a rock. It is a highly contentious issue, with many claiming it could be an existential crisis for humanity. If true, it will not discriminate between nations. Martin argues that space could offer assistance such as new sources of water, and that collaboration between China and the U.S. could expedite the process of finding such resources and would benefit both nations.

  • “The traditional narrative of space exploration can be adapted to distinguish space cooperation from traditional bilateral competition”

Martin argues that the Trump administrations rhetoric has created a narrative of “militarization” in space, rather than allowing space to be a symbol of unity amongst nations. In a world so full of division, she argues that cooperation between fundamentally different nations like China and the U.S. in space could be a symbol of commonality and hope for the rest of the world.

  • “There is extensive precedence for multinational cooperation in the space domain, even between adversaries”

This is a fairly simple argument made by Martin. There is a great deal of precedent for cooperation in space, even among nations that are rivals or enemies. The International Space Station is a joint space venture, involving many nations. Among them are the United States and Russia. Historically, the U.S and Russia have not gotten along and relations between the country are currently shaky, yet they work together on the ISS. Why should China and the U.S. be any different?


Martin U.S.-China Relations in the Age of COVID-19: Politics, J., Issue Brief Hong Kong National Security Law China’s Objectives and the U.S. Response in context of the ‘one country, & Report Blue Dots and Red Roads: Frictions and the Potential for Limited Cooperation Between Chinese and U.S. International Development Models Frictions and the Potential for Limited Cooperation Betwee. (2020, September 21). Pursuing U.S.-China Cooperation in the Space Domain. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://chinaus-icas.org/research/pursuing-u-s-china-cooperation-in-the-space-domain/

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